The president of the Frank J. Basloe Library Board of Trustees gave an update during Tuesday’s village board meeting on the library’s redistricting proposal to change from a municipal library to a school district library.
Michelle Andersen reported a proposition asking voters to approve the change will appear on the ballot for the May 21 school budget vote and board election. The proposition will ask for approval of the redistricting with an annual budget of $270,930 to be collected at the same time as school taxes, although the funds will be kept separate.
Candidates for the library board of trustees will also appear on the ballot and if the proposition passes, the top five vote getters will win seats on the library board. In order to be eligible to seek a seat on the library board, a candidate must reside in the Herkimer school district and must collect 25 signatures on a petition, Andersen said. Terms would not be more than five years and term lengths would be staggered following the first election to avoid having the entire board turn over every five years.
When asked how people would know about the opportunity to run for the library board, Andersen said she and Basloe Library Director Lesley Paul had talked about putting an announcement on the sign by the library. A legal notice will also be placed in the newspaper.
“If the proposition passes, in June we would convene the new board,” said Andersen. She added once the library’s legal team had completed the paperwork to establish the Basloe Library as a school district library, “the municipal library would be dissolved on paper.”
Village Trustee William Markey asked what would happen if the proposition fails.
“If it doesn’t pass, we will still be a municipal library,” said Andersen. “We have your budget recommendations and we will work with them.”
The library currently operates as a department of the village of Herkimer and receives most of its funding from the village. Cuts in recent years have forced the library to reduce its hours and cut staff by attrition. While approval of the proposition would not change its role as a public library, the rechartering would broaden the library’s base of support;
Basloe Library would receive its primary funding from Herkimer Central School District taxpayers instead of village taxpayers.
The library board has hired a consultant to help inform voters about the proposed change and what it would mean. Libby Post, of Communication Services of Albany, who has assisted other libraries in these transitions, will help to market the library’s services and make sure local residents understand the plan.