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Mt. Vernon Library Board Wants School District In Charge

The Mount Vernon Public Library Board of Trustees discussed having a referendum on switching control of the library from the city to the school district.
The Mount Vernon Public Library Board of Trustees discussed having a referendum on switching control of the library from the city to the school district. Photo Credit: Greg Maker

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Na’im Tyson, president of the Mount Vernon Library Board of Trustees, said it is his mission to make sure a referendum takes place to turn over control of the Mount Vernon Public Library from the city to the school district.

The library budget was cut by the city by $250,000 for 2013, which led to discussions of turning over control of the library from the city to the school district. A vote was taken by the library Board of Trustees in 2010 to go to a referendum on the issue, but it never happened.

Gary Newman, president of the Civil Service Employees Association of the Mount Vernon Public Library, said he was surprised that there was no open discussion at the time the vote was taken, since union members have opposed the switch for several years.

“My theory about the inaction is that it wasn’t about money or the referendum,” Newman said. “It was about having to hold elections of trustees who are afraid to put themselves up to a vote.”

Library Trustee Millie Burns said that is not the case. Burns said that there weren’t any secret meetings or “slipping anything by anybody” and that the board has been open and straightforward with the public.

“It was made clear to me back in 2011 that it is the Board of Regents that would make the determination if it were to go to referendum,” Burns said. “This library has been obliged to go out for a vote for many years, but because of missing records and poor communication, it has not happened.”

Tyson said the board is working on the issue.

“We are a volunteer board who can’t do this eight hours a day,” Tyson said. “We need to make sure that all of our questions are answered, and we hope to have a referendum soon.”

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