Posted by: Dawn Powell | August 25, 2016

I need to correct my error on the library.

The petitions that were circulated for the library tax increase do not establish a separate taxing entity for the library.  I recently had access to the wording on the petitions, and checked the library site, which has a clear explanation.  The petitions establish a permanent increase and level of funding to which the Town Board will be bound until a new vote, or other change.

the text:

“Shall the annual contribution of the Town of Putnam Valley for the annual operating budget for Putnam Valley Free Library be increased by $27,778.00 to the sum of $320,000  annually?”


Responses

  1. The petitions as circulated are so deceptive as to be almost fraudulent.

    Despite the wording that was deliberately used so that people wouldn’t know or understand what they signed when they did the petitions, the intent of the Library board is to establish a Library District that will effectively remove funding from the elected town board as is done now.

    There is no transparency and/or control with the unelected library board doing the budget. If a district is established, there will be virtually no way to reduce the budget, just increase it.

    Example- if the new District is approved, the base line budget will be over $300,000. That means that the next year, the budget to be voted on would be either $300,000 or some additional amount.

    Keep in mind that if the library was not funded by the taxpayers, it would be out of business.

    • The $320k becomes a mandate for the Town Board. They will have to fund it at that amount until it is increased by petition.

      • Dawn- sorry about my last comment describing the 414. You are correct. It does not establish a district.

      • I thought that was what they were going for, so that we would have a vote on the budget each year. To me, this is a very strange entity where the voters compel the board to fund a contract holder.

        I don’t really care about an elected library board. No one has ever wanted the job. I’d rather vote on planning and zoning boards.

      • Dawn- if you read through the law and other information put out by NYSED you will see that the library funding cannot be reduced once this measure is passed. It can only stay the same or be increased. We do not get to vote to reduce the budget!! That’s pretty screwed up if you ask me.

      • I don’t like the idea of having no escape valve with a town contract. Would you sign a contract that you could never get out of?

      • Dawn- at this point I’m not sure what you mean about the contract. Please explain.

        Whatever legal relationship the Library has with the town, if this proposition makes it to the ballot and is passed, there will be an immediate 11% increase in the library budget. Also, it isn’t clear about the tax cap. It looks like the Library is not subject to the cap – how else can they get away with an immediate 11% increase? Also, there seems no limit to future increases built into the law.

      • The library is a separate entity from the town. The only relationship is an annual contract. The Town contracts with them to provide services to the residents. If this resolution, or whatever it is gets approved, then the town is obligated to pay them regardless of anything. Why would you guarantee a contract holder an annual contract and an annual fee, when you have no ability to negotiate the contract? I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that.

        Our relationships with the ambulance corps, the fire department, the senior club and the VFW are also contractual. The Town Board authorizes the Town Supervisor to sign a contract. Theoretically, they can go elsewhere for the services.

      • Good point, now I get it.

        However, you know as well as I do that there is virtually no chance that the town will look elsewhere to get these services, including the Library, especially the FD and the ambulance.

        If you read through the 414 law, it’s pretty unbelievable the way that it’s set up. No real protection for the taxpayers.

        I’ll bet any amount of money that none of those people who signed the petition knew what they were agreeing to.

        The wording is completely deceptive.

      • I understand that the town won’t go elsewhere, but this change obligates them to pay the library, no matter what, with nothing to be said about anything. Suppose there is a zombie apocalypse, and the new library board decides that only The Art of the Deal and the bible are appropriate reading material. It wouldn’t matter. Possibly the town could sue, but it looks like they are on the hook, no matter what.

      • This is a bad deal all around. There is no up side at all.

  2. The way that this proposal is written, the additional amount allocated each year for the library will count against the town’s tax cap. This results in less flexibility for the Town Board to allocate that money for some other purpose without exceeding the tax cap.

    Of course, the Town Board has done a lousy job of staying within the tax cap for the current budget. But Sam O did promise that the Town Board would stay within the tax cap during his tenure as supervisor. (sarcasm alert!!!)

    Whistling Willie

  3. The process our library is doing is called a Chapter 414 procedure.

    It is a law that enables libraries to put up their budgets for a vote. That may sound like a good thing, but the truth is beware when you hear the words “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you.”

    Chapter 414 does not change the charter of the library. It only impacts the municipal appropriation for the library. The amount approved will remain unchanged until another Chapter 414 vote is initiated by the library board. Should a subsequent 414 vote fail the amount approved through the previous successful vote remains in effect.

    In other words, if they get this proposal on the ballot in November and the people vote yes, the library budget will go up roughly 11% to $320,000. This is on top of all the other money that they receive from other sources, which is significant.

    KEEP IN MIND THAT JUST BECAUSE WE VOTE ON HOW MUCH MONEY TO SPEND, IT DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE ANY SAY IN HOW IT IS SPENT!

    THE LIBRARY DOES NOT HAVE AN ELECTED BOARD. THIS IS TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

    Now suppose that the win on the ballot this November and then in 2017 they put up the budget for a vote again. Suppose they raise the amount and try to get $400,000 and the people say no, they really don’t want to spend that much and in fact, they’re sorry that they agreed to the $320,000 and vote no.

    EVEN IF THE VOTE IS NO IN SUBSEQUENT YEARS, THE LIBRARY WILL ALWAYS GET AT LEAST $320,000 NO MATTER WHAT.

    AT LEAST IF THEIR BUDGET STAYS UNDER THE CONTROL OF OUR ELECTED TOWN BOARD, THE AMOUNT THEY RECEIVE CAN BE REDUCED IF TIMES ARE TOUGH AND THE BUDGET HAS TO BE CUT.

  4. I may stand corrected on my previous post. The moderator of the Putnam Valley Political Debate page on Facebook has posted the following:

    “If passed, the library budget amount WILL NOT count in the town overall budget for tax cap purposes. The library budget will be removed from the town budget. If passed, the town board will have an extra $300k to play with before the tax cap comes into play.”

    If this is true (very hard to get any definitive information), there is no doubt that Sam O and the Town Board will spend that extra $300k year-after-year-after-year and claim that town spending has remained under the tax cap.

    Whistling Willie

  5. Folks- here is the law and procedure that explains in great detail what the library is doing:

    http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/libs/pldtools/guide/h-inbyin.htm#municomm

  6. WW- if you read the NYSED article, it doesn’t look like the town board will have anything to do with the money in the Library budget if the 414 is passed. It appears that the town collects the money from the taxpayers and then hands it over to the Library. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that the town board can spend the library money.

    Also I don’t understand how this would relate to the tax cap.

    The real danger here is the 11% tax raise that will never end.

    Nobody is telling us what happens if the economy tanks and the town budget has to be slashed over all. If the library proposal goes thru, we can never lower their budget.

  7. Patty,

    You have written here and on the Putnam Valley Political Debate page on Facebook page that the tax-cap implications of the 414 vote are not that important. You are wrong.

    If the library receives an additional $20k a year, that will have a moderate impact on our tax bills.

    However, if the the library funding is removed from the town budget and, AT THE SAME TIME, Sam O and the Town Board are able to use last year’s tax levy as this year’s baseline, that will result in an additional $300k in spending, to be repeated year-after-year-after-year. This would represent a MUCH LARGER impact that the $20k of additional spending by the library.

    Sam O and the Town Board would maintain that they had remained within the tax-cap while spending us into oblivion. You can count on them to exploit this loophole if the voters approve the library referendum.

    Whistling Willie

    • WW- not sure I get your point about the tax cap ramifications. Let’s see if I have this right. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      As it stands now, without the 414 proposition, the library funding, whatever is decided on by the town board and within the town budget, would be subject to the tax cap. Just like every other department, the Library could be told that they have to lower their expectations by 10% or whatever is necessary to come in under the cap. ** NOTE: We do not get to vote on the Town budget.

      If the 414 proposition gets on the November ballot and is passed, the Library budget will be a separate line on the ballot. The cap will not apply to them. The Library will get an 11% increase in their budget which will bring it up to $300,000 plus. We WILL get to vote on just the Library budget if this prop is passed, not the rest of the budget. However, the amount can never go down, just up. That is what the big problem is.

      Also, Dawn has brought up the contractual issue. It seems unlikely that the town board would end their contract with the Library.

      So- what you seem to be saying is that when the town board prepares the budget for 2017 which has to be passed before the end of this year, and which will be subject to the cap, they will include the existing library budget in their calculations.

      BUT, if the prop is passed, this will be the last time that they include the library funding in the general town budget. THE LIBRARY BUDGET WILL NO LONGER BE PART OF THE PV TOWN BUDGET. THE TOWN BOARD WILL HAVE NO SAY SO ON IT. THE PEOPLE CAN ONLY VOTE ON WHATEVER AMOUNT THE LIBRARY WANTS TO ASK FOR. IT WILL NEVER GO LOWER THAN $320,000 OR WHATEVER THE AMOUNT IS.

      If the prop gets on the ballot but does not pass, the Library will get whatever the town put in the budget for them. And that’s all.

      It looks like the town will have to have a base line amount in the budget for the Library because they don’t know if the prop will pass or fail. What choice do they have?

      To summarize: the town has to include the Library funding in their tentative budget for 2017. They don’t have a choice. That amount will be subject to the cap. If the prop passes, the Library budget will become a separate line on the ballot to be voted on directly by the people. It will no longer be part of the town budget.

  8. In the scheme of things, just how important is the tax cap if the 414 proposal gets on the ballot and is passed? Especially since it doesn’t look like the library is subject to the cap.

  9. Today I spoke with Dan Vera who is my go to expert on this 414 and he cleared up a big misconception that I had.

    It was my understanding (wrong) up till today, that if the Library prop was passed that the town board would remove the funding that they had allocated in their tentative budget which they will vote on AFTER Nov. 8th. I stupidly thought they had a legal obligation to do do.

    Sadly, there is no mandate for the TB to do that. In other words, if the Library vote passes and the people agree to spend $320,000 a year, the town is not under any obligation to remove whatever funding they had allocated for the library for 2017.

    Instead, they can simply take that $287,000 or whatever they allocate, and move it around to other budget lines in the event that the Prop passes.

    So what will happen is, we will be DOUBLE TAXED for the Library, at least for the year 2017. We will end up paying over half a million dollars for a building and services that practically nobody uses, and if there was no taxpayer support, would cease to exist.

    Kind of sucks all around.

    • What Dan Vera has opined is exactly my understanding as well. Plus, Sam O and the Town Board will maintain that they have stayed within the tax cap. The Town Attorney will undoubtedly back them up with his expert legal opinion (sarcasm alert). Rubbing salt on the wound.

      Whistling Willie

      • WW- I still can’t believe that they’re not mandated to remove the money from the budget if the Library Prop is passed!!

      • Where else would the money be in the budget? Would it be listed separately like the fd budget? The TB will still be collecting the taxes and paying the bills. It still seems to me that the money has to be budgeted and will just be moved to a new place, and there will be no double billing. This is a question to ask the finance director.

      • Simple- they will just move it out of the “library” line to another line. Like maybe Parks & Rec, building department, etc. They have a million ways to spend our money. Their motto is “use it or lose it. They are just redistributing the wealth so to speak.

        Just like the school district. Read the Comptroller’s report.

      • So there will be no double billing, but the Town Board will have that $290K to count toward the tax cap, with no cuts at all, and an actual increase. Where will the $300K be when the budget is reported and in our tax bill?

  10. HERE IS THE OFFICIAL WORD FROM SUPERVISOR SAM OLIVERIO:

    “Our budget does not have to be adopted until the end of November. We will know the results of the vote after November 8th. If the proposal passes, the Library budget will be eliminated from our budget line. No double taxing and no moving to a different line. If the proposal doesn’t pass, the library budget will be included as a line item.

    Sam Oliverio

    Supervisor –Town of Putnam Valley”

    • But that still leaves the concern about the tax cap.

      • So you think they will include the money regardless, just put it into other lines? How would you be able to tell? The budget always increases.

      • Is it likely that they would take the $280 out of the tax cap calculation? I can’t imagine that. Put it in the Parks and Rec magical money fund. I think that the LP budget still has the $25k annual contribution to the truck fund that we bought 2 years ago. I can see why there would be an equipment fund, but does this small community need $25k a year in equipment? Can’t even get an inventory and replacement schedule.


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