Massena resident opposes library transition

Posted 5/15/24

To the Editor:

The Chicken Littles want us to believe the Massena Public Library is “under-funded” at its current level, and that it will be forced to close or dramatically curtail …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Massena resident opposes library transition


To the Editor:

The Chicken Littles want us to believe the Massena Public Library is “under-funded” at its current level, and that it will be forced to close or dramatically curtail hours of operation and services if it is not converted to a “school district library” with a huge boost of $160,000 more tax dollars per year.

That is on top of the more than half-million dollars ($543,000) it receives this year from the Town of Massena.

Let’s be honest, for a change. 

The Massena Public Library isn’t going anywhere and will not fundamentally change if it remains a town-owned entity. And no one is saying that it will except some alarmist members of the Board of Trustees and retired employees who sit at home and receive their nice public pension payment every month.

Those of us who oppose the transition and the huge budget increase don’t hate the library, by any means.

We are simply tired of unnecessary tax increases.

My wife and I already pay about $400 every month in school taxes. A school district library will add a new tax line to that bill.

The library’s plan would take expenses and costs already covered by the Town of Massena – such as maintenance/custodial services, insurance, etc., and create new job titles - and transfer those costs to the new school library district. How does that make any sense?

The proposed 2024-2025 budget they are planning is $679,990, of which $595,215 is budgeted for personnel costs to include: salaries, workers comp, Social Security, Medicare, state retirement and health insurance.

Yet only $23,000 is allocated for books and periodicals.

Those numbers are shocking.

Is the library a community asset or a jobs maintenance program for the current library staff?  

In the last 20 years, as small libraries have tried to stay relevant in a fast-paced, Internet-based world, they have gone to some extremes. Libraries can’t possibly fulfill every need of every person in the community, but some try.

Massena Library loans garden tools, for example. There are rumors about spending thousands of dollars in the not-too-distant future to build some kind of commercial kitchen.

In a library?

I’m all for progress, modernization and updating but I also think of myself as a realist. Not every idea is realistic and makes sense for a library. Budget limitations tend to bring lots of lofty ideas back to ground level.

One wonders if the push to become a school district library isn’t driven by a desire to get out from under the budgetary control of the Town Council – budgetary control that might limit some of the limitless ideas being hatched in the library.

If the trustees are left to their own devices, how big will future library budgets get? Are there projections somewhere of what the Massena Library budget will look like in the next five or ten years if the trustees’ grandiose plans become reality?

The trustees tell us the voters will decide future budgets.

Yes, they will, at the same time 500-plus Massena Central affiliated voters will likely overwhelmingly approve the school’s more than $72 million dollar budget. $72,298,457 to be exact.

If they vote to approve that budget, how likely are they to turn down any number put forth by the school-affiliated library? 

Joseph D. Gray