Library Funding Initiative Was Too Much For Taxpayers

A $65,000 home in Jamestown with a 30-year mortgage at 5 percent interest is $295.25 a month, according to a mortgage calculator at bankrate.com. According to the city’s property tax bills, a home with that $65,000 assessment on the north side of Jamestown would pay $3,389.51 a year in city, county and school taxes, or about $283 a month.

Compare that to a home with the same assessment in Lakewood. The $295.25 a month mortgage comes with a combined village, town, school and county tax bill of $1,170.12 a year, or $97.51 a month.

That, in a nutshell, is why the James Prendergast Library Association’s $850,000 community funding initiative was soundly defeated this week. Few can make a sound argument against the services the library provides. Unfortunately, there are dozens of arguments to be made against increasing taxes in Jamestown – even the relatively small amount per homeowner the library was requesting. High taxes are unquestionably one reason for declining home ownership rates in Jamestown and the difficulty in attracting new businesses within the city limits.

To some, the $60 a month the library tax would have added to the tax bill on that $65,000 home isn’t much. For others, it is simply ludicrous that the library tax would have made taxes on a home in Jamestown cost more than their mortgage.

We understand library officials’ disappointment at the results of Tuesday’s vote, just as we understand the passionate feelings of those who opposed the library tax. They have been in opposition for the past few weeks, and it’s time for everyone to get back on the same page now that the vote is over. The community needs to plan the future of the James Prendergast Library knowing – after two failed votes in about a decade – that taxpayer funding for the library isn’t going to happen. It is time for increased attendance at library board meetings, increased participation in fundraisers and an increase in the number of ideas being generated to help fund library operations. Library board members need to know from the community what services are considered essential, what services can or are being provided elsewhere and what non-tax community alternatives there may be to raise money.

Speaking of raising money, the time has come for the library to increase its endowment by selling its art collection. The sale raised the ire of many people last year but now, selling the non-local and non-essential pieces of the library’s art collection must happen as soon as possible. Beautiful artwork is of no use to a closed library.