Update 7:30 a.m., Wednesday:
According to Mount Vernon Library Director, the budget unofficially passed, though the winning trustee candidates remain unknown.
“There was a very large turnout of over 2,400 voters,” she said. “The unofficial results showed that the library won the vote by a very large margin.”
Keep following the Daily Voice for the official votes of the inaugural Mount Vernon Library vote and to see which candidates will be filling trustee seats.
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon residents came out in droves on Tuesday, as, for the first time, they exercised their right to vote on the public library budget and trustee candidates.
There was a steady stream of traffic outside the library, and lengthy lines inside, as voters crammed into the community room to cast their vote on the $4.35 million budget.
Since its inception in 1904, the library budget has been funded as a small part of the overall city budget each year. Due to a state mandate that created an independent library district for the public library, the budget and trustees have been put up to vote.
The public voted on four candidates to vacant library trustee positions, three of whom will serve three-year terms, the other a one-year term.
According to Mount Vernon Library Director Carolyn Karwoski, considerably more than 1,000 voters had turned out by 5 p.m., with even more than that expected throughout the evening as residents return from work. They can cast their vote until 9 p.m., when the decision will be tallied.
“We expected a great turnout, but this kind of surpassed even what we could have imagined,” she said. “While we were out in the community, we’ve found that there is a lot of support for our library.”
There was a full compliment of officials on hand to help the lines move smoothly. The library was equipped with various security guards, greeters and other volunteers that were helping to point voters in the right directions. Experienced poll workers who have participated in school and other elections also volunteered their time to take and tally the votes.
“We had a huge crowd, but we had experienced folks that helped everything run well,” Karwoski said. “There is an amazing amount of people that support the library and its services.”
If the budget passes, it is not a new tax being imposed on property owners; it is instead simply being allocated separately from the budget. If it isn’t passed during the Tuesday vote, there will be a subsequent vote in June. If the budget fails the second vote, programs, services and potentially jobs will be cut.
“(If the vote fails,) we’re not sure the city will be able to support us in 2015. We’d have to work with the city to see if they could spare some more money, but there’s not much left to allocate in the city,” Karwoski said. “I don’t expect it would be pretty, and there’s no guarantees the city could fund the library next year.”
The $4.35 million in community-based funding represents a tax burden of $283 per year for a home assessed at $10,000, just 78 cents a day. If voters don’t pass the budget, hours, programs and resources at the library will all be dramatically cut to reduce costs in an effort to keep the library open as long as possible.