September 1, 2011
New tax bills provide for transparency in library funding
Thursday, September 1, 2011
BY MATTHEW KADOSH
Passaic Valley Today
Worry not. That "public library tax" line item on your property tax bill isn't an additional charge.
To provide for more transparency in accounting, the state has mandated that municipalities detail the amount of their local taxes go to their libraries.
"It's just a new line item," said Anne Krautheim, director of Totowa's Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Library. "It's not a new tax and now everybody can see how much they pay to support a public library with their new tax bill."
And Krautheim wants residents to know what they get for their money. She said that for a home that is assessed at $378,000 the library tax is $125 a year, which is a little more than $10 a month. Compare that to the price of the average bestseller, which is $14.99, Krautheim said.
The Totowa library detailed the information for their library patrons in flyers they placed in their books.
"We put a very positive spin on the for our library cardholders, specifying to them what they get for $10 a month," Krautheim said.
In addition to books, the library provides Internet access, notary service, lectures, a movie program, story hour for children, science and origami workshops as well as one-on-one computer sessions.
A state mandated funding formula determines how much money goes to pay for these services. The municipality contributes a third of a mill of the equalized valuation of the town to the library, Patricia Pelak, director of the Little Falls Public Library, said.
That money comprises of about 98 percent of their budget, she said. The rest is composed of state aid, money collected from book sales, and money collected from fines, Pelak said.
"Everything that we do comes out of our operating budget," Pelak said.
In addition to budgeting $88,000 for books and electronic materials, the library also pays for the maintenance of their building, membership in a computer consortium, and staff salaries, Pelak said. They also pay their public service bill, which Pelak said was $3,000 for the month of July – an extraordinary number.
Gov. Christie signed the law mandating the new line item on March 21. It will not impact library services or any existing financial, operational, personnel, or other relationships between a municipality and its library, according to the New Jersey Library Association.
Amy Landry, director of the Alfred H. Baumann Public Library in Woodland Park, also assured patrons they were getting their money's worth and not paying a new tax.
"We put out a lot of information before the tax bills came out and all the feedback has been positive," she said.
Posted by tumulty at September 1, 2011 2:55 PM
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