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Canton Free Library asks for $2,000 more from taxpayers

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CANTON — Voters will decide next month whether the Canton Free Library can collect an additional $2,000 each year through property taxes.

The spending proposition will be on the ballot for the Canton Central School District’s 2012-13 budget vote. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. May 15 in the high school library, 99 State St.

If approved, the annual library tax will increase from $75,000 to $77,000. It appears as a separate line item on school tax bills and is paid by property owners in the school district.

The additional $2,000 would result in an extra 49 cents a year for the average Canton homeowner, boosting the average library tax to $18.75, according to data provided by Thomas Langen, president of the library’s Board of Trustees.

Canton Library Director Carolyn J. “Lyn” Swafford said the extra funding will help the library make up for revenue losses.

“It’s basically to replace the money we’ve lost from the state and county,” Mrs. Swafford said.

Funding from St. Lawrence County decreased from a high of $14,570 in 2008 to $11,690 this year. State funding dropped $1,450 over the past two years. State funding each of the past two years was roughly $2,723.

This year’s $333,682 library budget includes $77,114 from the town and $30,700 from the village.

“Our town and village boards have been very supportive and have shown that support by giving us increases just about every year, and we are truly appreciative of their belief in what we provide for the Canton community,” Mrs. Swafford wrote in an email message.

Besides the main library at 8 Park St., the Canton Free Library operates smaller branch libraries in Morley and Rensselaer Falls.

Library officials said the extra funding will help the library maintain hours at the three sites, retain programs for children, maintain and update computer services and purchase books and other materials in a variety of formats.

Because of the downturn in the stock market, funding allocated to the operating budget from the library’s endowment has decreased from a high of $90,000 in 2008 to $75,000 this year.

In 1998, voters approved a $25,000 proposition for the library that was followed by an additional $25,000 in 2002 and an extra $25,000 in 2010. All of the votes passed by wide margins.

This year, library trustees decided to seek a smaller amount.

Although Canton Central officials collect the library tax, the spending proposition is separate from the school district’s proposed $23.27 million budget.

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