Provisional and absentee ballots cause delay in final Monroe library funding tally

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    MONROE-Much like the delayed acceptance of the presidency by George W. Bush, the final outcome of the operations budget for the Monroe Free Library is undeclared pending the review of provisional and absentee ballots. According to still unofficial results from the Orange County Board of Elections, 2,492 people voted in favor of increasing library spending by $83,363 to $922,500 annually, while 2,443 opposed it. That's a difference of 49 votes. Just slightly more than 31 percent of the town's 15,743 registered voters cast ballots. With such a small margin, the outcome of the provisional and absentee ballots could cause the proposition to be defeated. The Board of Elections is expected to certify the vote by Friday, said Library Director Marilyn McIntosh. If the proposal is finally approved, the library would use the additional resources in a number of ways, such as making the children's librarian a full-time position, which in turn will allow the library to develop a strong teen program. "We will also expand our audio/visual budget," McIntosh said. In addition, they will be able to keep up with the cost of living. "The library system budget had a 5 percent cut by the governor, which was not restored, resulting in increased membership fees," McIntosh added. "We are grateful for the support, whether we win or lose," McIntosh said. "Year ‘round we strive to give the best service and respond to what people tell us they want for this library. We want to know that people understand what we're trying to do," she said. Meanwhile, Monroe Supervisor Sandy Leonard begin Monday's town board meeting by apologizing for some incorrect information regarding the library budget's impact on overall town taxes. In a story in last Friday's Photo News, Leonard indicated that library spending was up 29.9 in the last year. She cited it as one of the factors contributing to an projected overall town tax rate increase of more than 12 percent. However, the library calculations were wrong because they represented the tax rate increase over a two-year period, not year-to-year. "I just would like to make an apology to the library and say that I'll take full responsibility for this," Leonard said. "We found an error in the calculation of the library tax rate year-over-year for last year and, I did call Marilyn this morning and I did call both the papers to make sure that it was corrected. The rate was incorrectly calculated at 29.9 percent because when the bookkeeper looked at the rates, at the numbers, he didn't take last years number. He took the number from two years ago. So that rate is accurate for two years but the rate for this year should only be 7 percent. The increase dollar amount is still $83,000-plus and it's still a 10 percent increase for the library budget, but I did want to clear up that misconception." A referendum for the library/town hall building is tentatively scheduled for March 2005.