Threat to the Library:A2555 was introduced by Assemblyman John DiMaio on March 16, 2010. It would eliminate the 1/3 mil requirement and instead base the annual appropriation on the actual amount deemed necessary by the municipal governing body.
This bill has been referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. To see just some of the groups that have passed resolutions opposing this legislation: CLICK HERE.
2. Make funding for Municipal Libraries a dedicated tax
For over twenty years, municipal free public libraries were exempt from the “cap” legislation. When this legislation was revised in April 2007, municipal libraries were not included as a cap exemption. The 245 municipalities which support municipal and joint libraries were impacted by this action. County library funding, however, is exempt from the cap because it is a dedicated tax and listed separately on the homeowner’s tax bill.
In June 2007, efforts were made by the League of Municipalities and the NJ Library Association to adopt a resolution to exempt municipal libraries from the cap. Our goal is not to have another exemption to the “cap” legislation but rather to list funding for municipal libraries as a dedicated tax (such as municipal open space tax). This would then bring fiscal parity between those communities that support municipal libraries and those that support county libraries.
This is creating a hardship for the communities which support municipal libraries. In the proposed New Jersey FY 2011 Budget, state aid for municipalities is being reduced in a time when tax revenues are also decreasing. Although municipal library funding is a small percentage of a municipality’s budget, typically less than 3%, many towns are feeling pressures with shrinking tax revenues and are looking to reduce library funding to find relief.
By restoring municipal free public libraries and joint libraries to their previous status outside the “cap” and creating a dedicated tax, townships will have a tool in their toolkit to deal with these severe fiscal challenges. This solution is with further precedent, as it was stated previously; county library systems have dedicated tax lines.
This solution will help ensure the safety of the long term effective funding of municipal free public libraries as well as assist municipalities with their current funding issues.