Fiscal concerns over Fairview

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To The Editor:
Last week I attended a Fairview Library Board meeting, hoping to enter into a conversation with the board where my concerns as the town supervisor, budget director and chief fiscal officer for the town would be answered in light of the February 2012 revised budget for the Fairview I requested and received last month.

The Fairview Library is a town library and was formed by a vote of the town board in 1974. The town board appoints all library board members and NYS requires, as one of several minimum standards for receiving public funds (your tax dollars), that they report on their finances to their funding agencies.

The Fairview Library, like Skene Library in Fleischmanns, is an essential part of the community and I had hoped, as someone who loves libraries and all they represent particularly in small rural communities, to start a relationship with what is mostly a brand-new library board in which I would be able to be one of its biggest advocates.

My questions and concerns were met with silence or the statement that they would be “taken under advisement” and brought to the library’s attorney. My main concern regarding their budget gap of just under $40,000 was also turned aside in this manner. The Fairview’s projected income for 2012 is $38,640 versus expenses of $78,335, including a 71 percent increase in payroll expenses to support the hiring of a new library director, a very nice woman and resident of Schoharie County I met after the meeting, along with a 25 percent cut of the tiny book-purchasing budget compared to 2011.

As the Town of Middletown is the primary funder and governing body of the library, I have a responsibility to the taxpayers as chief fiscal officer to scrutinize the use of their tax dollars, wherever they are being spent. I encouraged the current library board to consider having a balanced budget, which should be the goal of any publically funded municipal institution that intends to last over the long haul.

Additionally, I told the Fairview board that I would like to increase the funding Middletown gives the library, as well as increasing the funds we give to Skene, but if I cannot even begin to sell an increase to myself due to the Fairview’s budget being so out of whack, how can I possibly sell it to the community, particularly in hard times? I will continue to seek a good working relationship with the current board of the Fairview and look forward to collaborating with them on community-wide advocacy for the library as well as encouraging a needed turn toward true fiscal responsibility by the library board in future.
 
Marjorie A. Miller,
Supervisor
Town of Middletown