Residents Turn Out in Support of Library Funding

November 20, 2019 – UNT Supervisor’s meeting

Absent – Brian Pulliam

Announcements

November 23rd – Last day this year for the yard waste facility. It will be open from 10am – 2pm

Public Comment on Anything BUT the Library

A Newberg Road resident reported that he’d gone through the township budgets and noticed huge ($300,000 – $400,000) deficits for the last three years. The deficit for 2020’s proposed budget is $135,000. He wondered why the township was running so many deficits and stated that the Supervisors should restore funding to all the services UNT needs.

A Gun Club Road resident stated he thought UNT was in debt from added infrastructure and wondered why the supervisors were considering a million square foot warehouse.

  • Donna Hirst stated that the issue of the warehouse hasn’t come before the board yet

Supervisor’s Comments on Library Funding (It was standing room only in the room with at least two reporters present)

Township Manager Lisa Klem spoke about the issue for a few minutes, stressing that the vote taken at the last meeting was only to advertise the proposed budget. It includes a ½ mil increase or approximately $90,000 more in tax revenue. Cuts include cutting the library budget in half, no increase in the manager’s salary, no permitting software ($16,000), a $45,000 salary cut to the Police Department, $35,000 for a new police vehicle and the discontinuation of the Pibbles and Paws service ($6,400).  Future expenditures include the replacement of three police cars, renovations to the township building (may be able to get grants for this), the road program, paving equipment, the storm water management program the state requires, and contractual agreement with the police (increase of 3%). The funding for the Fire Department didn’t change from last year.

Budget meetings were held on Sept. 23 and Oct. 7th and were open to the public.

Donna Hirst spoke next about a website she used to look up tax forms for non-profits and examined the 990 forms for Nazareth Memorial Library. In 2017, she said the net assets of the library were $3.96 million which decreased to 619,000 in subsequent forms.

  • The library’s auditor, Chris Crook, was in attendance and pushed back saying that there was nothing untoward there. The library moved to a cash basis and the building was not considered cash.

Donna pointed out that the library has investment income of $20,000/year.

  • The auditor explained that those funds are used to reduce contributions from the township.

Donna said it is the duty and obligation of a government to be as conservative as possible and the Library had a lot of money available in their accounts.

  • The auditor pointed out that that money is needed to pay end of the year bills and some years the library loses money. Also, some funds are dedicated to specific functions and can’t be used for general expenses.

Scott Sylvanius said the township shouldn’t hold the library at fault for improper budgeting. He described the proposed budget of slashing the Library’s funding by 50% as ‘disgusting.’

Public Comment on Library Funding

Library Director Holly Bennet spoke saying, challenging Mike Rinker for saying at one of the budget meetings, “Everything you do at the Library, I can do on Google.

A resident said he’d been a library director for 40 years and he moved to the area because of the library, pointing out that Seniors need the services because a bestselling novel costs $30 at Barnes & Noble.

Someone asked why the budget hasn’t been properly managed to meet all the needs of the community. We should not be in the position of needing three police cars all at once.

A woman wanted to know when Liberty Street was going to be fixed because people were falling in the holes during Trick or Treat.

Someone complained that they’d sent several messages in support of the library to the township but hadn’t received any response. Also, UNT’s improper budgeting affects other townships as well, not just ours.

Jay Benfied from the Planning Commission asked how much taxes would have to be raised to cover the $98,000 in requested library funding, and the $135,000 deficit for 2020.  Answer: 1 ½ mils.

UNT Tax Collector, Tracy Adamski, pointed out that UNT has raised taxes for the last three years and that many people come to her house and tell her how hard it is to pay their real estate taxes.

A resident who moved here recently said libraries are the hub of any community and encouraged the supervisors to consider what they will lose if it has to close.

Someone pointed out that it’s very hard to get a parking spot at the library and that it is the cultural center of the town.

A Nazareth Borough pointed out that “someone” made a determination at the outset to slash the library funding. Lower Nazareth, Nazareth and Bushkill are or have approved budgets to pay their full share and, by cutting their funding, UNT is punishing other townships. UNT, like the other municipalities, agreed to the funding formula for the library.

A St. Elmo Street resident volunteers at the library and talked about how many people come there to get their taxes done.

A 5th Street resident asked about the traffic light at Route 191 and Friedenstahl Ave cost $1.9 million and the Nazareth School District has never paid their agreed upon share.

A resident expressed that a library provides for lifetime learning and wondered why the population at large didn’t hear about this issue till the day after the election. She then asked Mike Rinker why he hadn’t run on a platform of “Vote for me, I’m going to gut funding for the library.”

Someone said elected officials should respond to the needs and wants of a community and urged the supervisors to fully fund the library.

Another said UNT owed it to the kids to maintain the library. If we lose it, we’ll never get it back.

A mother said there’s no other place where she can take her baby for story-time.

Terri Sayago, one of UNT’s representatives to the Library Board, said that only UNT, out of the four municipalities, was cutting the budget despite them facing the same economic stresses. The money for the library is not a donation from UNT, it is funding.  4,300 UNT residents have library cards. Parks & Rec got $93,000 last year and the parks aren’t open 12 months a year.

A Nazareth Borough resident pointed out that UNT residents pay 7 ½ millage while Nazareth pays 16 mills. NASD raises taxes every year to give quality of life for the students. UNT should raise taxes to protect the quality of life for its residents.

A Bushkill resident pointed out that the storm water funding is only going to get worse and that running 5 straight years of deficits was foolish.  Incremental tax increases would be better than a sudden shock. She suggested UNT impose a impervious water tax on parking lots and development.

Someone wanted to know how much the township had budgeted for the holiday party. Answer – it’s paid with a donation, not taxes.

A resident said that the library is an investment in the community, it’s not about the books.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

3 to 1 approval to pay for an advertisement for Ordinance No. 183 the Open Space tax that was approved by the voters on Nov. 5th. (Robert Disbrow voted against)

Approval to exonerated $36.43 in taxes from 2011 on a home that has since been razed.

DSCN3983

Becky Bartlett covers these meetings because citizens have a right to know what their government is doing.


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