Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time to pay Peter in the Borough's budget round of "rob Peter to pay Paul"

For one or two budget rounds, the amount needed from the Borough's budget to finish out the annual operating expenses for the Newfield Public Library was shifted into capital improvements (Paul) not subject to the cap on raising taxes.  That opportunity has sailed so now the money has to come from the Borough's operating budget (Peter), which is subject to a cap on raising taxes.

Worse, all the properties in Newfield were re-assessed downward due to the steep drop in the real estate market.  So the pool of money against which the rate is applied has shrunk meaning the tax revenues will go down.  Let's make the math simple so it's easy to understand.  Assume the tax rate for 2013 is 10% and the 2013 pool of money is $1000.  That means 2013 tax revenues would be $100.   Let's apply the cap and make the 2014 rate to be 12% and the 2014 pool of money is to reduced to $800.  That would make the 2014 tax revenues ($800 multiplied by 0.12) $96, $4 less than the year before.    Yes, that isn't much but when you are already "robbing Peter to pay Paul" it is significant.

But, you say, don't I already pay a library tax to Gloucester County?  Why doesn't that money cover our library here.  Yes, you do pay a library tax to Gloucester County and Newfield Public Library gets back approximately $2 for every $1 you pay.  Here's the official breakdown:

In 2013, the residents of Newfield contributed $52,942 in dedicated library tax toward the operation of the Gloucester County Library System (GCLS).  The budget allocation for the Newfield Public Library was:

      Staffing                                  $ 67,903

      Books, etc.                                  6,000

      Summer Reading Program                         500

      Automation Services                         25,940

                   Total                       $ 100,343

 And there is even benefit that doesn't show up as called out to explicitly to Newfield Public Library but are provided through the Gloucester County Library system to all its residents.

This doesn't cover all of Newfield Public Library yearly operating expenses, the shortfall of which is about $25,000.  Historically, the Borough budget made up the shortfall each year.  Money raised through Library Board fund raisers throughout the years have added extras like computers and special children's programs.  The recently added meeting room was funded through extremely generous donations of the Capozzi family.

Soon you will be getting a letter or flyer from Newfield Public Library asking for donations as an effort to raise a significant amount of the about $25,000 still needed for 2014.  I hope you can and will help as I remember the days when the library was that little building tucked in next to Borough Hall, was open for two hours weekly on Tuesday night, was heated by a pot belly wood-burning stove, and the newest books were  Nancy Drew's and Hardy Boys'  from the 1930's.  Newfield Public Library has come far since then and, with your donations, we can keep it that way.

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