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Vote will decide library’s future in Gilmanton

If Gilmanton voters don’t agree to pay for the privately owned Gilmanton Year-Round Library in their tax bills this year, it will close Saturday – just four days after the election.

The library was built in 2008 and runs on a $70,500 operating budget. On Tuesday, the residents will vote on a measure to cover $52,500 – about 70 percent – of those costs for the next year. The remaining 30 percent of the budget would be covered by donations.

“We don’t have any extra money at this time,” said Anne Kirby, president of the nonprofit library association.

A similar measure was defeated in 2009, when the library first opened, but for the next three years, the town’s taxpayers agreed to foot the bill for a portion of its costs.

That changed last year, when for the first time residents voted on the warrant by an SB 2 ballot system rather than at a town meeting. The library lost town funding in a 400-322 vote.

“There was a lot of shock after the failed vote last year,” Kirby said.

The library – the only full-service library in Gilmanton – was able to scrape by on donations. But that isn’t sustainable, Kirby said.

“If you never know if you have the money, then you can’t plan for the future,” Kirby said.

If the library closes, its three staff members would lose their jobs. Two smaller, part-time libraries do operate in the town. Kirby said her staff has tried to better explain the SB 2 voting process to their patrons this year, in hopes that they will turn out to the polls in support of the Gilmanton Year-Round Library.

“Our patrons are much better informed now about the process in general for the town and for the library,” she said.

∎ The budget: $3.28 million, down from last year’s operating budget by nearly $98,000, or approximately 2.9 percent.

 “The staff here did a tremendous job looking at things, do we want it, do we need it,” Town Administrator Arthur Capello said.

  The most significant savings came from the solid waste department, he said, which has switched from a full-time director to a part-time director in the past year.

∎ Other warrant articles: The board of selectmen and the Gilmanton Fire Department will ask voters to weigh in on how to fill a vacancy in Chief Paul Hempel’s staff. On the warrant is a measure that would keep the department’s staff as it is – one full-time chief and three other full-time personnel. But Capello said the selectmen hope to fill that full-time vacancy with two part-time employees, which would save the town about $34,000 in health care and other benefits.

∎  If all of the warrant articles pass, Capello estimated the town’s portion of the tax rate would decrease by 47 cents to $4.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. But Gilmanton will also revalue all of the properties in the town this year, he said, so that number could change.

 “That could have a dramatic impact on the tax rate,” he said.

 In 2013, the total property tax rate was $21.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

∎ Contested elections: Stephen McCormack and James Barnes are vying for one three-year seat on the board of selectmen.

∎ Voting: Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Gilmanton Academy, Province Road.

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