Chapter 414 of the New York State Laws of 1995 provided public libraries in New York State (including association libraries) with the ability to place a funding proposition on a municipal ballot. The library must obtain signatures from eligible voters within the municipality on a petition requesting that a library-funding proposition be placed before the voters at the next municipal election. The number of signatures must equal at least 10 percent of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. If the petitions are properly executed and filed, the municipality must comply. If the proposition passes, the municipality must collect the taxes and pay them to the library.
Municipal Ballot – How to go about it
- Representatives from the library meet with the local Board of Elections or municipal clerk to discuss requirements for placing a proposition on the municipal ballot.
- It is advisable for the library board to appoint one person to lead the effort and form appropriate working committees to carry out specific assignments.
- The library board contacts local municipalities (especially those that are currently funding the library) to inform them of the library’s intentions and to obtain their support and assurance that municipal financial support will continue if the library’s budget vote fails.
- The library board/working committee(s) obtains the required number of signatures of registered voters on a petition supporting the budget proposition (at least 10 percent of the number of votes cast in last gubernatorial election).
- The library board must go on the record by passing a resolution supporting the budget proposition. (This is a protection built into the law to ensure that propositions to reduce the amount of funding for the library cannot go forward without library board approval.)
- The library verifies the petition signatures to ensure validity (voter lists can be obtained from Board of Elections).
- Petitions (proposition and signatures) are filed with the Board of Elections and the municipal clerk, meeting minimum lead-time requirements.
- The vote on the library-funding proposition is scheduled to take place at the next general election (November).
- The library board and appropriate working committees conduct a campaign to educate the community and advocate for passage of the proposition. No public funds can be used to advocate for the proposition. However, library support organizations such as the Friends of the Library can use private funds for advocacy. Click here for more information on educational and advocacy campaigns.
- If the proposition passes, the municipality collects the taxes and turns them over to library.
- The amount collected will continue from year to year until another proposition is placed on the ballot to increase the amount. To increase the amount, the entire process (collecting and verifying signatures, etc.) must be repeated.