Tough questions honest answers

Before the vote at Manchester's Town Meeting, we would like to clarify some of the questions we have been hearing from our fellow Manchester neighbors on the Mark Skinner Library/Manchester Community Library's request for public funding before Manchester voters.

You are asking for $44,800 more than before. Why so large an increase? Our last increase in support was in 2010. For the past three years, the Library received the same level-funded amount from the Town which caused us to cut back staffing, impacting our ability to serve library users. Much of the increase we seek covers adding back staffing hours that were cut, staffing for the additional day we will be open, staffing to support our increasing digital and technology needs, and staffing to support the Children's and Young Adult departments. Even with these modest additions, we will continue to run a lean organization.

How will this impact my taxes? The cost for supporting the Library's additional request will add about $11.95 a year to the average tax bill in Manchester. That's less than one pizza or a lunch out; less than one hard-cover book and less than $1 a month. When this added amount is combined with the current appropriation's tax impact, which on the same median house is $40.90, the annual amount to support the Library would be $52.85. We believe it is well worth less than $5 a month to have a valuable community resource that is available to all, now and for generations to come.

Is the Town paying for the new building? The construction of the new library building is 100 percent privately funded by gifts from individuals, businesses, and foundations. No taxpayer money is being used to build the new library. As part of our private fundraising we have planned a significant increase to our endowment which helps relieve the funding burden on Manchester residents.

Did you assume the Town would fund the library? The Library never assumes anything with respect to monies being provided by the taxpayer. This is important to recognize because we are as conservative as we can be in making our requests to the Town.

If I don't use the library, why should I pay for it with my tax dollars? We are Manchester's only public library. A vibrant public library is an important component to the quality of life in our community, providing essential services to our residents, and we rely on Manchester to help us meet our operating budget.

Just as taxpayers may not have children currently in the schools, or use the pool and Recreation Park, as citizens we know that there are pillars of a strong community that we support as taxpayers that keep us safe, educated, and connected - accessible to all and for the overall good of us all.

What will happen if you don't receive the funding? If the Library does not receive additional funding from the Town, severe reductions in staff, materials, and services would be unavoidable.

We hope that the Manchester taxpayers and voters who attend Town Meeting on March 1 at the MEMS gym will join us in recognizing that the new Manchester Community Library is a profoundly valuable community asset that is worth supporting.

Pat Bennett, Patrick Bernal, Carol Berry, Tom Deck, Stephen Drunsic, Martha Heilemann, Rob Lemonik, Brian Marthage, Linda McKeever, David Novak, Chris Rose, and Meg Seff - members of the Library's Board of Trustees.


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