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Kennett Library referendum passes in New Garden

11/14/2017 01:25PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

In the days and weeks leading up to Election Day on Nov. 7, the Board of Directors for the Kennett Library canvassed the roadsides and mailboxes of New Garden Township with a blitz of signage and mailings, calling for assistance to the library. On Oct. 24, four Library representatives brought their pitch directly to the voters in New Garden, with a presentation intended to inform and inspire.
These efforts worked, because on Nov. 7, the voters of New Garden Township walked into polling booths and proceeded to change the future of the Kennett Library, forever. 
By a vote of 1,014-651, the township approved a referendum that will create an annual dedicated tax of about $20 per household that is projected to generate an additional $80,000 in revenue to the library.
The referendum read: "Do you favor increasing New Garden Township's real estate property tax by 0.100 mills, the revenue from such increase to be used exclusively to fund the operation of the Kennett Library?"
"Our combined efforts helped to encourage 60.9 percent of the New Garden voters to vote YES for the modest .1 mil tax increase that will end the string of deficits the library has been forced to endure since the State eliminated their English as Second Language funding in 2012," said Library Board Vice President Jeff Yetter.
Given that the average assessed value of a home in the township is $204,890, the referendum is expected to cost an average household in the township a little more than $20 every year, or about 39 cents a week. The dedicated library tax will go into effect in 2018, and would be tacked on to the township's annual tax assessment for each household.
The 'Yes' vote reverses the results of the 2014 election, when a similar referendum was defeated by 52.33 percent of New Garden voters.
The increased funding from New Garden to the library will go directly toward general operating expenses, which include the purchase and replenishment of books and e-books; payroll; videos, computers and internet services; access to data bases; building maintenance; insurance and the cost of phones and electricity.
The increased funding from the New Garden referendum will not be dedicated toward the construction of the planned new Kennett Library, which is scheduled to be situated on the Weinstein lot on State Street in Kennett Square. Raising the building costs for the new library will instead come from private donors and foundations.
While state and county funding, grants, corporate and private donations and fundraising events help pay for 72 percent of the library's operating expenses, passage of the referendum will help account for a chunk of the remaining 28 percent of funding still needed. Passage of the referendum will also significantly increase the proportionally low annual contribution the township has been making to the library.
According to the library's fair share calculations, New Garden is supposed to be responsible for 8.5 percent of the library's annual total budget, but only funds 1.3 percent to the library every year.  In recent years, the township has given the library $10,500 in annual contributions; this year, the contribution was increased to $15,900.
With passage of the referendum, New Garden becomes only the third of eight municipalities contributing to the Library who now pay their fair share through a dedicated tax. East Marlborough and Kennett townships are the other municipalities.
Jim DiLuzio, appointed by New Garden's supervisors to the Kennett Library Board of Trustees, and Chair of the Referendum Committee, noted at the polls: "The Kennett Library changes lives and deserves our support."
"Throughout this whole campaign, I kept being reminded of the words of Walter Cronkite who said,  “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation,'" Yetter said. "Together, we have opened some minds, as well as their purses."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.



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