Huntington braces for override votes to fund library, ambulance service 

  • Amanda Loiselle, the director of the Huntington Public Library and Carol Fidrych-Duda, the youth service assistant, talk with Duane Pease about the upcoming vote to fund the library. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2022 10:28:44 AM

HUNTINGTON – The campaign for the Proposition 2 ½ override to fund the town’s public library budget is in full swing, with advocates hoping residents will vote to keep the library open.

“Most people are really angry that there’s even a question about it,” said Karen Wittshirk, chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Huntington Public Library.

The override, along with an override to fund ambulance service in town, will be on the ballot for a special election on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Stanton Hall. The reasoning for the overrides given by Edward Renauld, the Select Board chairman, at a public meeting on May 16 was that the town has been dipping into its stabilization account to balance its budgets and that the town needs to raise more money to sustainably move forward.

The library override is $86,328 while the ambulance override is $58,777. However, because of state law, the ambulance service will have to be funded even if the override fails. That’s not the case for the library, although voters could still choose to fund it from stabilization at Town Meeting.

Even if both overrides pass, the budgets also will have to pass at the annual Town Meeting on June 6 as well.

The library override represents the minimum amount of money required from the town for the library to be state certified and receive state money. As such, without the $86,328 from the town it will close its doors on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

For the average homeowner in town, which means a residential property of $238,600, the library override would represent a $88.28 yearly tax increase, while the ambulance override would be a $59.65 yearly tax increase.

Wittshirk said that the pro-library campaign has “gone through two sets of signs” already, and that there’s been a lot of support from the people she has talked to about the issue. 

“But I haven’t talked to everybody in town,” she said.

Susan McIntosh, a member of Friends of the Huntington Library, is another person campaigning for the override. She said advertisements have been taken out in addition to the signs.

“We’re certainly hoping that the override will pass,” she said.

McIntosh also said that she’s been calling people she thinks will be supportive, and has been having supportive conversations.

“I just hope people will get to the polls,” she said.

She also said that she has heard from one person who opposes the override because of the tax increase.

“It has been quite positive,” said Linda Siska, a trustee of the library, on the campaign for the override.

Siska described libraries as pure democratic places where people can access information for free. 

“I became a trustee because I support libraries,” Siska said. “The library really supports us in so many ways.”

Siska said that she likes that the library provides books from a local place, and that borrowing as opposed to buying a book appeals to her from an environmental perspective. Additionally, Siska said that she likes supporting the library over Amazon.com, and pointed to its value as a community space as well.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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