City library needs new fund stream

Thank you for publishing the article about Dunkirk Library’s initiative to form a library district in order to stabilize its funding. Dunkirk is working to create a School District Public Library – a district that is established by the voters of a school district because the service area of the library and the school district are the same.

I’m writing to clarify a few points.

First, the article correctly states that the city would drop the $135,000 it currently provides to the library which would lower city taxes.

However, it is not the school district that will be picking up the tab for the library, as stated in the article. If the voters approve the district, the community-based funding for the library will come directly from school district residents with a separate line item on the school tax bill.

The funding would not come out of school funding, but would only be collected by the school district and then turned over to the library.

Second, the library is currently chartered as an association library, a freestanding not for profit, funded by the city with a board of trustees that adheres to a governance and nominations process. The Dunkirk Library is part of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System which provides circulation, technology and other library services to Dunkirk and the 36 other libraries in the system’s two-county service area. The Library System is distinct and separate from the school district just like the proposed library district will be.

State law enables libraries such as Dunkirk to go directly to the voters to create a district with a base level of funding and elected trustees. Once the district is established, the library will have to live within its own tax cap – just like the city, the school district and other local municipalities.

If you would like more information about the district, please contact Janice Dekoff, the library’s director at 366-2511.

Joseph Price is president of the Dunkirk Library Board of Trustees.