LIBRARIES Another tax hike looms in CVCS

Votes to levy a new tax through a school district to support libraries is nothing new at this point.

Town and village budgets aren’t providing enough support for libraries to keep their doors open and provide the programs users want, so they use a provision in state law to levy a tax through school districts.

Voters in the Cassadaga Valley Central School District are the latest to have a Section 259 vote on the ballot on May 21 when they go to the polls to vote on the Cassadaga Valley Central School budget for 2024-25, with $130,000 requested to support the Mary E. Seymour Memorial Library in Stockton, Cassadaga Branch Library in Cassadaga and Sinclairville Free Library in Sinclairville.

Voters don’t tend to turn these propositions down. That’s in part a recognition that libraries do provide a valued service in their communities, hosting programs for youth and senior citizens and serving as community gathering places that are especially important in rural areas. And, for those who love to read, the libraries serve as a gateway to information available through both the local library and other libraries in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System.

The only caveat we give is this: don’t be surprised when your tax bill goes up if you vote in favor of the library tax.

One selling point often used is that approving the library tax is only a couple of dollars for each taxpayer in the school district. And that’s true. But it’s also worth remembering that it’s not as if your town and village taxes will decrease while the library tax replaces those local taxes. These proposition votes rarely result in a mere tax shift from local government to the funding provided by the 259 vote. The tax money you used to pay to your local government that was then given to the local library isn’t likely to be removed from the local budget once the library tax is approved. It will likely be replaced by another need. That means your local town and village taxes will either remain the same or go up while you also pay the additional library tax.

We can’t argue with the role libraries play, especially in rural communities. But we think people should cast their vote knowing there will be a cost — and that cost won’t go away.


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