Proposal that called for a 15 percent tax hike ousted by just 20 votes

Section: Capital Region,  Page: B1

Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TROY -- City voters rejected the Troy Public Library 2012 budget that carried a 15 percent tax increase Tuesday, 321-301.

The $1.11 million budget would have increased property taxes by $8 for a home valued at $100,000.

"It's very, very close," Paul Hicok, the library director, said of the 20-vote difference.

"The budget is what we need to operate a good public library for the city," he said.

The proposed $1,113,200 library budget used a $1,025,000 tax levy or $135,000 more than the 2011 levy of $890,000. The 2011 budget is $1,006,500.

The library board of trustees will meet in the near future to determine what action to take as they review the 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent split in the tally.

"We have to take a hard look at what we're going to do," Hicok said.

In early 2009, the library closed its Lansingburgh and Sycaway branches when voters rejected the budget in 2008, wiping out the creation of a tax district to pay for library expenses.

When a September 2009 revote on the establishment of the library district and the accompanying budget passed 956-595 the branch libraries reopened. There was no budget vote in 2010 due to the tax levy remaining the same.

There was a dramatic fall off in voter participation between 2009 and 2011. While, 1,551 people voted in 2009, just 622 cast ballots Tuesday,

Asked if the branches would have to be closed again, Hicok said, "I'm not sure we're there yet."

The library lost $70,000 in funding from Rensselaer County causing a budget gap. Hicok said it would take about a 7 percent tax increase to make up this deficit.

The Troy library budget was the only one of four Capital Region library budgets presented to voters within the last month to be defeated.

Each of the four budget proposals exceeded the 2 percent tax cap set by the state. The three other spending plans passed were for the East Greenbush, North Greenbush and Clifton Park-Halfmoon libraries.

In each of the four library districts, the boards of trustees overrode the tax cap with a vote of more than 60 percent of the trustees backing the hike.

Troy voters also tossed out incumbent Trustee James Corsaro replacing him with challenger Courtney DeNobile on the seven-member board of trustees. DeNobile was elected by a 274-213 tally.