By Ashley M. Casey
The Fulton Public Library lags behind two similar libraries in the North Country Library System in funding for its staff members, according to data from the 2012 New York State Bibliostat report.
Library Director Betty Maute said Fulton serves a population similar to the Ogdensburg Public Library and the Canton Free Library with less money.
“What they pay for staff alone is our entire budget,” Maute told The Valley News. “There’s a big discrepancy between us and other libraries serving the same (size) population in the North Country Library System.”
The Canton Free Library spent $231,598 on its nearly 10 staff members in 2012. Ogdensburg spent more than twice what Canton did on staffing — $492,708 for 8.5 staffers.
With the 2014 Fulton city budget cuts, the Fulton Public Library’s total budget is $220,000. The library receives $50,000 from the city of Fulton and $170,000 in taxes collected by the Fulton City School District.
“There’s no question that it’s about time we come up in the budget,” Maute said.
The Fulton Public Library will have a proposition on the school district’s May 20 ballot that would eliminate funding from the city and increase the library tax levy collected by the school to $350,000.
Currently, Fulton City School District residents pay 22.75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the library tax. Fulton city residents pay 15 cents per $1,000.
A Fultonian with a $75,000 house would pay $28.31 toward the library in 2014.
If the proposition passes, the tax rate would increase to 46.84 cents per $1,000 through the school district’s collection, with no city taxes going toward the library.
So that Fultonian with the $75,000 house would pay $35.13 toward the library in 2015 — only $6.82 more than the previous year.
The tax burden would be shared among district residents, so city residents would not be paying two different tax rates toward the library.
When asked what the library’s “Plan B” is, Maute said that hours would decrease even further to 35 hours per week and the current staff of five full-time employees would have to go part-time. Currently, the library is open 43 hours a week — it’s closed Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday and Monday.
“We’re not going to have any of the resources to carry on our computers, our technology,” or new books, Maute said.
“Our budget will be cut to the $170,000 we get from the (school’s collection), plus whatever the city decides to give us next December,” she said.