Huntington prepares for by-pass votes to fund library and ambulance service
HUNTINGTON — The campaign for the Proposition 2 ½ waiver to fund the city’s public library budget is in full swing, with advocates hoping residents will vote to keep the library open.
“Most people are really angry that there’s even a question about this,” said Karen Wittshirk, chair of the Huntington Public Library’s board of trustees.
The waiver, along with a waiver to fund ambulance service in the city, will be on the ballot for a special election June 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Stanton Hall. The reasoning for the waivers given by Edward Renauld, the chairman of the Select Board, at a May 16 public meeting was that the city had dipped into its stabilization account to balance its budgets and that the city needed to raise more money to move forward sustainably. .
The library waiver is $86,328 while the ambulance waiver is $58,777. However, due to state law, the ambulance service will have to be funded even if the waiver fails. This is not the case for the library, although voters can still choose to fund it from stabilization at the town hall.
Even if the two derogations are adopted, the budgets will also have to be adopted at the annual municipal meeting on June 6 as well.
The library waiver represents the minimum amount of money required from the city for the library to be certified by the state and receive money from the state. So, without the city’s $86,328, it will close on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
For the average homeowner in town, meaning a $238,600 residential property, the library waiver would represent an annual tax increase of $88.28, while the ambulance waiver would be an annual tax increase of $59.65.
Wittshirk said the pro-library campaign has already “passed two rounds of signs” and there has been a lot of support from people she has spoken to about the issue.
“But I haven’t spoken to everyone in town,” she said.
Another person campaigning for the waiver is Susan McIntosh, a member of the Friends of the Huntington Library. She said advertisements had been removed in addition to the signs.
“We certainly hope the waiver will pass,” she said.
McIntosh also said she called people she thought would be supportive and had supportive conversations.
“I just hope people go to the polls,” she said.
She also said she heard someone object to the waiver because of the tax increase.
“It’s been pretty positive,” Linda Siska, a library administrator, said of the campaign for the waiver.
Siska described libraries as pure democratic places where people can access information for free.
“I became an administrator because I support libraries,” Siska said. “The library really supports us in so many ways.”
Siska said she likes that the library provides books from a local place, and that borrowing rather than buying a book appeals to her from an environmental perspective. Additionally, Siska said she enjoys supporting the library on Amazon.com and also highlighted its value as a community space.
Bera Dunau can be reached at [email protected]