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Library budget continues to shrink

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Library budget continues to shrink
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It's been a long and painful budget process for New Hartford Library's Board of Trustees as they strived to create a budget with very little resources. Now the process is over, the budget has been approved, but trustees tell our Cara Thomas that while they did the best they could, they are less than pleased with the result.

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. -- For New Hartford and numerous surrounding communities, the local library is an essential part of their town.

Frankfort resident Alice Connors said, "It's a wonderful learning place. For some children, unfortunately, it's a refuge. And it's a wonderful safe place."

But as budgets continue to get tighter, sacrifices have to be made. And library patrons in New Hartford will soon see changes take effect.

Board Trustees Linda Romano and Richard Evans say, "In our budget, we have reduced hours. We're closing on Mondays and Tuesdays at 6 o'clock. We will also remain closed on Wednesdays."

The library's board of trustees approved a $500,000 budget, down more than a $100,000 from last year. It's actually all they could approve because their money comes from the town, county and state and that's all they had to offer.

The trustees tried to recharter themselves into a school district library, but the town said no and they were back to square one.

"Our major source of funding has always been the town and as I said that has consistently gone down every year, so yes, it's a cause for concern," says Romano.

Despite the concerns and dramatic drop in approved funding, one trustee who voted against the proposed budget says even more cuts could have been made, starting with their paid staff.

Trustee Edmund Waitr Jr. said, "Our statistics, that is our circulation stats, we've gone down by 60 percent in terms of library patronage. That in turn dictates that you must reduce your staff."

Library trustees say while the budget has been approved, they will continue to evaluate it quarterly and make changes whenever necessary.

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