Public Library Petitions Township Supervisors for Tax
Flood Cleanup and Stream Repair Projects to Begin
By Rick Hiduk
Six representatives from the Wyalusing Public Library (WPL) attended the Nov. 1 Wyalusing Township Supervisors’ meeting to follow up on an earlier request of the board to consider imposing a .25 mil library tax on township residents, citing statistics that indicate that they comprise the greatest percentage of library users.
The concept of a library tax, which Wyalusing Borough residents already pay, initially sparked no more interest among the supervisors than it did when it was brought up at the October meeting, but John Driscoll and other WPL board members pressed the supervisors for some sort of response, as they explained that their hands were tied as to how public libraries are permitted to secure funding.
“We are currently running at a deficit and, at some point, we are going to have to close up or curtail services,” said Driscoll. “We cannot operate at a loss indefinitely.”
David LaFrance added that the library cannot legally charge for lending materials, and the minimal charges imposed for services such as faxing and making copies do nothing to offset drastic cuts in state funds for libraries, which cover only twenty percent of WPL’s annual expenses. A .25 mil tax would amount to about $18,000 per year, LaFrance calculated, which would provide a substantial boost to the library.
Township supervisor Lanny Stethers stated that he was opposed to a new tax but said that he would stand behind an increase in the annual $350 donation made by the township. Chairman Marvin Meteer acknowledged both the plight and value of the public library but expressed concerns that such a move would leave the township open to requests by other interests for special taxes or funding.
“We want to support the library,” said Meteer, “but where does that place us with other requests that we get, such as fixing streams?”
“In light of what has been happening lately, I don’t think that the timing is right,” Supervisor Art Allyn agreed. “Forty people from Camptown were here that suggested that we raise taxes to clean the stream out there, but I’m not sure that would be fair to everyone else in the township either.” Allyn made the motion to increase the township’s annual donation to WPL to $1,000, which was seconded by Stethers and unanimously approved by the supervisors.
“We certainly appreciate the donation,” said Driscoll, who remarked that WPL board members respect that the township has a lot of pressing issues to deal with. “We will probably be back,” he added. “We have ongoing problems as you do.”
As the library board members departed, township residents Rich Howard and Debbie Minturn approached the supervisors to pore over some land maps together as part of their request for a waiver from the planning commission.
The board then dealt with a state mandate to accept Berkheimer Associates as the state-appointed tax collector for the township, appoint the township secretary as the official liaison between the township and the Bradford County Tax Committee, and to permit Berkheimer to retain costs associated with the collection of delinquent taxes. Township secretary Maxine Meteer, who accepted the nomination on behalf of her position, noted that most municipalities are appointing their respective secretaries to fill the mandated seats.
Marvin Meteer presented an update on flood recovery in the township, noting that he had met with FEMA officials on Oct. 28. The township presented a list of priorities and the estimated costs of each. While local municipalities have been given the green light to get started on their most important projects, Meteer expressed reservations about how much funding the agency actually has available to conduct such a massive recovery effort.
He also noted that controversial limitations and restrictions on how to clean up stream beds remain in effect, which will bind the township as to how far it can go with each project.
“We have requested mitigation in some cases, but it’s unlikely that the kind of stream cleanup that people want will be part of the project,” he stated, adding that he would prefer to subcontract all of the work for the ease of bookkeeping and to limit wear on township equipment.
He advised those in attendance that any state funds from proposed impact fees are likely more than a year away. “I don’t see that we are going to get any of the money right away,” said Meteer.
One of the first flood-related jobs that will be done involves the removal of concrete slabs from the creek near the playground in Camptown.