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As we approach December 31, 2019, the end of the current contract for library services for residents of the Town of Union Vale, we want to ensure that you have up-to-date information about the status of a new contract for such library services.
We have provided the Union Vale Town Board with a revised draft of the proposed contract, for its consideration, to reflect the changes that Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS) has agreed to over the past several months:
Residents of the Town of Union Vale clearly understand the value of lifelong learning and want open access to information and literature. The request that the Town of Union Vale contribute support for neighboring libraries is driven by the fact that residents of your town make such good use of their neighboring libraries. The proposed contract is an attempt to create some equity, so that residents of other towns are not paying the full cost of library services used by residents of Union Vale.
Below please find an updated set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the proposed contract. As always, we welcome your questions. It is our mission to ensure the best possible library services for all residents in our region, including the Town of Union Vale.
Q. Why is there a contract in place?
A. The Town of Union Vale does not have its own library but thanks to New York State Education Law, residents still have the right to access library services at other libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System. However, given that this means other town’s taxpayers are subsidizing Union Vale residents use of their libraries, that same law allows for restrictions to library usage by those residents to be put in place when two conditions are met: (1) a town is not providing “equitable funding” to help subsidize library services and (2) 5% or more of an impacted library’s circulation of library materials is attributed to the residents of a town without their own library. Four years ago, when these two conditions were fact, restrictions for Union Vale residents were put into place, limiting access to library services. Through a negotiation with MHLS and the town of Union Vale a contract was created that provided a good faith effort by the town of Union Vale to start paying an amount that was closer to their fair share. This resulted in the restrictions being lifted and therefore residents of the Town of Union Vale have had unrestricted access to their area libraries since 2015.
Q. Is this contract with four libraries or with the Mid-Hudson Library System?
A. This contract is with the Mid-Hudson Library System.
Q. How much of the contract amount does the Mid-Hudson Library System keep for itself?
A. None. All funds are passed on to the most impacted libraries in this situation.
Q. How is “equitable funding” defined?
A. “Equitable funding” is defined as the average per capita funding for all libraries in the county. This definition can be found in the state approved Free Direct Access Plan of the Mid-Hudson Library System, as required by regulation.
Q. What is the equitable funding level in Dutchess County?
A. In Dutchess County, the average per capita funding is $50.26. This would translate to an amount of $245,118 given the population for the Town of Union Vale as stated in the 2010 Census (4,877). The current contract is for $76,407.
Q. How much does the Town of Union Vale provide for library services under the current contract?
A. The current contract calls for a contribution of $76,407. This is approximately 30% of the amount required by regulation, however the neighboring libraries impacted by this issue endorsed this amount in a good faith effort to ensure Union Vale residents have open access to library services.
Q. While $50.26 may be the county average, how much do the residents of the impacted towns actually pay?
A. Current amount per capita by Town*:
*All funding numbers are from the NY State 2018 Annual Report. Population numbers are from the 2010 census. The Beekman Library population number is adjusted to remove the population of Green Haven Correctional Facility (14, 621 minus 1,971 equals 12,650).
Q. How much does the proposed contract for 2020 request?
A. Out of respect for the town’s financial position and in acknowledgement of the NYS Property Tax Cap the proposed contract provided by MHLS to the town board asks for a 2% increase for 2020 and proposes no increase in 2021. This follows the funding pattern of these contracts since 2015.
Q. Why did MHLS decide that the proposed contract amount was the final offer?
A. In talks with the leadership of the neighboring libraries most impacted by this situation it was agreed that the amount in the existing contract is more than fair and going lower than this amount is unfair to the taxpayers of the neighboring towns who do adequately fund their libraries that the residents of Union Vale benefit from.
Q. What will happen if the town does not sign the contract at the proposed amount?
A. The Beekman and Millbrook libraries have requested that systemwide restrictions be put into place if no contract is in place by January 1, 2020. This request has been endorsed by the Directors Association of the Mid-Hudson Library System and on December 7th the Board of the Mid-Hudson Library System has voted to respect their request and directed the Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System to move forward with implementing restrictions should no contract be in place in January.
Q. Has MHLS been willing to speak with the town board?
A. Yes. MHLS Executive Director, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, attended the September 19th town board meeting and has let the town board know she will make herself available at future board meetings should they want to discuss this matter further.