Voters approve library charter change

This week, voters in the Pavilion Central School District approved a change in the library’s charter to a school district public library from a municipal library.

PAVILION – Hollwedel Memorial Library, 5 Woodrow Drive, will increase its opening hours and expand its program offerings after voters in the Pavilion Cnetral School District approved a change in the library’s charter.

Residents, on May 18, passed by a 151-to-38 vote a proposition that will establish Hollwedel as a school district public library. The change will increase the library’s service area to cover the entire boundary of the Pavilion Central School District, which includes communities in Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming counties. Previously, the library had only been chartered to serve the town of Pavilion.

“The (library) board gratefully acknowledges the public’s support and confidence to change the library’s service area,” Board President Joan Gray said in a statement.

The process to change the charter will take several months.

“Once that is done, the hours will increase and more programs will be offered,” Gray said. “We are excited about the opportunities for all in the school district.”

The library, which is currently open 21 hours per week, will expand to 31 hours weekly once the charter change takes effect.

The change in charter is expected to stabilize the library’s funding needed to operate, library officials said.

Without the change, the library’s future was uncertain, Gray had said previously.

Hollwedel Memorial Library has seen a steady growth in the number of borrowers and use of services by local residents, while also experiencing flat or reduced funding revenue over the past several years, library officials noted as part of two public presentations ahead of this week’s vote.

In addition, mandatory New York state ninimum wage laws have had a significant impact on the library’s budget, with those costs increasingly requiring the use of more library funds, library officials said.

The increased costs left the library with little funds for programming or to purchase materials. The library spent less than $10,000 annually on library materials, the lowest among the 21 libraries in the Nioga Library System, which serves libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Niagara counties.

Hollwedel spent about $500 on programming, also among the lowest in the system, library officials said.

With this week’s vote, voters approved a tax levy of $130,000. Previously, the levy was $99,800.

The new levy represents community-based funding of 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on properties in the Pavilion Central School District, or an annual cost to the library of $44 on a home assessed at $100,000.

The additional revenue will allow the library to purchase more materials and bring a great selection of items to its patrons.

New York state has four types of public libraries allowed by law: association, municipal, school district, and special district. The type of library depends on how the library was established, which in turn dictates how it is able to raise funds and be governed.

Hollwedel was previously chartered as a municipal library, with its budget subject to approval by the town board and an official service area limited to that town.

As a school district public library, Hollwedel’s budget will be voted on annually by school district voters. The library may also petition for a tax levy from municipalities. The levy would then be collected by the school district, though the school will have no direct control of the library.

The change will also provide elected representation to the taxpayers as library trustees will now be elected rather than appointed. The trustees, who must be residents of the school district, will be responsible to school district voters and the state Board of Regents.

This week’s vote included the election a seven-person board of trustees. Board members are Deb Davis, Sharon Fuerch, Stephen Gould, Joan Gray, Karen Kingsley, Danielle Offhause and Tim Wasiewicz.

Hollwedel Memorial Library will remain housed in the same building it uses now at 5 Woodrow Drive.

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