The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 19, 2014

Montour commissioners: Let voters decide if they want to help Thomas Beaver Free Library

COOPER TWP. — Voters will decide if they want to financially help the Thomas Beaver Free Library.

The Montour County Commissioners expect to approve placement of a referendum for a library tax on real estate in the November general election. They expect to vote on the referendum during their meeting at 7 p.m. March 25 in the courthouse.

They announced the tax proposal at a meeting Tuesday night hosted by Cooper Township with six citizens attending.

Commissioners Chairman Trevor Finn said the tax would be one-tenth of a mill and amount to $1 on a property appraised at $100,000.

“The library has come to us twice to talk about funds,” Commissioners Vice Chairman Jack Gerst said.

The commissioners met with library representatives last week and discussed the idea of a referendum.

“It would keep the library afloat,” Finn said of the tax.

Finn said the county’s general fund doesn’t contain money for discretionary funds. He said the commissioners made that decision five or six years ago.

The library may change its charter so it becomes more of a county library if the referendum is approved, Finn said.

When library supporters attended a commissioners’ meeting in December, they said the lack of a county contribution reduces the library’s state allocation. Without a county contribution, the library lost about $4,000 from the state last year and each year the library doesn’t meet its goal, it loses more money from the state. Supporters said the library could lose up to $5,500 this year.

Board member Kathy McWilliams predicted within 10 to 15 years the library would be closed. At that time, she said money for the library should come from a tax because the facility is a county library.

She said the library has been dipping into savings each year. She told commissioners the Danville Area School District contributed $16,000 to the library.

“The library is very community-based and deserves support,” Commissioner Jerry Ward said.

The library is keeping up with the times, Finn said, making Kindle books available rent-free at the library.

“Myself, my father-in-law and my mother like to hold a book and read it. The library is a necessity,” Ward said.

Finn told those attending the meeting to talk with their neighbors if they favor a tax to support the library at East Market and Ferry streets.

“The library needs to preserve a beautiful old building and that takes a lot to maintain,” Finn said.

He commended the volunteers who keep the library going.

Gerst also praised the numbers of volunteers who help at museums, fire companies and numerous other organizations in the county. “They are a large group that is dedicated to the community,” he said.

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