December 4, 2019 – UNT Supervisor’s Meeting
The December 18th meeting will be held at the Intermediate School.
Holly Bennet, Director of the Nazareth Memorial, spoke to the supervisors about the library expenses, pointed out that she does not make $110,000 a year as some have claimed and that 30% of her staff is paid under $10/hour. For many jobs at the library, professional training is required and the library has addressed 2,500 reference questions this year alone. Over 1,000 people have attended events and there have been 1,200 inter-library loans. One hundred children participated in the Summer Reading program.
Ms. Bennet also pointed out that the library is required to have at least 5 items per registered patron and that UNT cuts to funding could potentially result in a decrease in state aid. If UNT goes through with their 50% cut, the library board may propose a cut in services to the 4,397 UNT residents that use the library, perhaps shutting them out of children’s programming, not letting them take out DVDs, prohibiting them from using computers or not helping them with their taxes.
Ms. Bennet said she knows the supervisors are not anti-library but the library is not operating in a fiscally irresponsible manner and that no other area of funding is receiving a 50% cut.
Donna Hirst asked if the Library is duplicating any efforts by Northampton Community College (NCC)?
- Residents have to pay a fee to use NCC services. Nazareth Memorial services are free.
- Hirst then suggested that everyone just go to NCC for books, eliciting groans from those in attendance.
The Library’s Treasurer spoke. She’s a resident of Bushkill and pointed out that Bushkill is fully funding their share. On Dec. 17th, she plans to propose to the Library Board that, should UNT go through with their funding. One option would be that UNT residents will only be able to take books out from Jan to June 30th, or that we could be cut off from children’s programming.
Ms. Hirst announced that she’s working on a PhD in accounting and that she had 18 questions for the library, including one about where their interest/dividends come from.
- The principal is from a past Capital Campaign and can’t be touched although some of the money may be used for building improvements.
The Library has hired an Outreach Coordinator – is that person bringing in the $35,000 to cover her salary?
- This is a new position that was started this year. Part of her job is to build community relationships. Some of the fundraisers (i.e. basket raffles – one’s going on right now) are new and the money they bring in can’t be predicted.
With the mood in the room turning ugly, Ms. Hirst said she was just being fiscally responsible to the residents of UNT. An argument broke out between the supervisors about reopening the budget and complaints about the public not attending the budget meetings. Ms. Bennet said that she, or library representatives, had attended the meetings but budget sheets were not made available to the public so they didn’t know what the supervisors were discussing.
- Township Manager Lisa Klem said that it had been her recommendation to slash library funding by 50%.
- A resident spoke up, saying that UNT had partnered with the library since 1967 and that supervisors should have given the library a heads up about funding.
- Another resident pointed out that the library holds a summer meeting every year for the four participating municipalities and that UNT did not attend. In the past, when there have been cuts they’ve been applied across the board. Not focused solely on one entity.
Ms. Hirst asked if the library can charge for services?
- Bennet said ‘no’, that would be discriminatory and that the library can’t charge fees for programming paid for with grants
Ms. Hirst asked if the Library had reached out to Northampton County for funding?
- Bennet said that there are 415 libraries in Pennsylvania and that Counties did not fund them.
- Klem disagreed, claiming that Monroe has something that sounds like a tax.
- Northampton County does not have something like that.
Ms. Hirst told Ms. Bennet that she had just received the annual letter from the Fire Department requesting donations. Does the Library do something like this? (Yes, they do. 7,000 were recently mailed) Ms. Hirst claimed she’d never received one and then loudly listed all the charities she donates to.
A resident asked if supervisors were satisfied that the library was run in a fiscally responsible manner. Ms. Hirst said ‘no.’
A meeting between 2 supervisors and the library board will be arranged soon to discuss options.
A resident from Eagle’s Landing Drive said he wants the library to become a public/private partnership.
Chris Cook, who’s on the Nazareth Council, pointed out that what UNT pays to the Library is a contribution, not a donation. The formula used for residents of Bushkill, Nazareth, Lower Nazareth and UNT was designed at UNT’s suggestion. UNT didn’t want it based on population because Gracedale residents typically use the Library. That’s why they went with an Earned Income Tax instead.
- Someone pointed out that if the Library becomes a Private institution they would no longer be eligible for state aid.
Chris Cook said that the library is funded by 4 municipalities. If UNT slashes funding, the other 3 will be hurt. Also, people from all 4 municipalities use the Nazareth Pool but don’t pay into it. He also accused the supervisors of poor budgeting.
Things got very shout-y at this point with Robert Disbrow doing a lot of yelling and Mike Rinker shutting down discussion and moving on to other business.
Your Tax Dollars at Work
Approval to accept a 50% grant from the county.
Approval to pay a $2,500 fee to Keystone.
The township treasurer needs to notify employers about the new tax increase, an open space referendum which passed during the November 5th election.
In response to questions about storm water replacement in Eagle’s Landing, Gary Asteak suggested letting the homeowner’s association know.
The lawsuit complaining about the Tadmore Project has been dismissed.
Becky Bartlett covers these meetings because citizens have a right to know what their governments are doing. A big thank you to Jeanie Morgano for covering the parts of the meeting I couldn’t attend.