JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School Board Tuesday night signed off on a resolution to hold an $850,000 funding initiative vote for the James Prendergast Library Association.
By a vote of 5 to 0, the board acted on a resolution designating Tuesday, June 7 from Noon to 9 p.m. as the date and time for the referendum vote, which will be held at the library.
State law requires that the district help to facilitate the vote if requested by the library, which is not legally allowed to hold such a vote on its own, because taxation is involved.
The specific language of the referendum, which will require a “yes” or “no” vote, is as follows:
“Shall the sum of $850,000 be raised by annual levy of a tax upon the taxable real property within the Jamestown School District for the purpose of funding the James Prendergast Library Association?”
Prior to the school board vote, board members wanted to make it clear that their approval of the date and location was in no way an endorsement of the library funding initiative. Still both Shelly Leathers and Patrick Slagle chose to abstain from voting on setting the date and time, saying they had questions that weren’t clearly answered regarding what would happen if they voted against setting a date and time. As a result, both felt they didn’t have enough information and were uncomfortable with voting on the issue. All five other board members voted “yes” on approving the date and location.
The library funding initiative calls on the school district to put forward an $850,000 referendum, with the money coming from all taxable property in the city and collected when the school district sends out its annual tax bill. Library officials have said the funding initiative is necessary due to a loss in revenue in recent years due to a decline in fundraising as well as in aid from the city.
Prendergast Board President Tom Rankin was in attendance for the meeting and said afterward that he hopes residents in Jamestown understand what’s at stake and will come out to support the funding initiative.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the city residents to support their library,” Rankin said. “The school district gets 70 percent of their funding from the state. [The Library] gets 7 percent. 70 percent of the school district budget goes to salaries and benefits. [The library] spends only 47 percent. So we are trying to do a whole lot with a whole lot less money on the whole and percentage wise. So what we’re asking is for the residents of Jamestown to come out out and support the library and give us sustainable income for decades to come.”
The library budget for the current operating year is 1,132,000 dollars, with $350,000 coming from the city and $72,000 coming from the state.
Again the vote on the library funding initiative will take place on June 7 from noon to 9 p.m. at the library. All voters eligible to vote in the school district elections and budget vote would also be eligible to vote on the library funding initiative.