Some 250 people showed up in the rain Tuesday night to tell the Solebury supervisors whether the board should increase funding for the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury.
The response proved a bit lopsided, however, since only one person spoke against the idea, and even he received applause, as did the rest of the speakers at the public forum held at the New Hope-Solebury High School.
The supervisors did not increase library funding in the 2020 budget, keeping its contribution at $120,000. The library had requested an additional $50,000.
At issue now is whether the board should increase funding and if so, whether it should come from a tax hike or by cuts to the township budget.
One resident said the library is the reason she moved here. As for the resulting $5 tax hike, she said, “a person can’t even get a Happy Meal at Starbucks for that.”
A Northpoint resident for 17 years argued that it costs $35 to join the Lambertville library where one has to pay the parking meters. “But Solebury’s library is free and it has five free parking spaces. That’s a little better.”
Former supervisor Helen Tai said, “A library is a critical element of society. Life is about choices. Don’t think this is a tough choice, it’s obvious we have to fund the library.”
Paul Cosdon, a former supervisor, said, “We support the library and would like to see the library grow.”
However, he noted the library bylaws call for the supervisors to appoint two members to the library board, which has not been done.
Supervisor Chair Mark Baum Baicker responded that no one had made the board aware of that until two months ago, and that the board will be making those appointments.
Other comments were along the same line:
– “The library is a true example of democracy -- put your money where your heart is.”
– “I adore this library in particular. I used to buy books. I’m a transplant from New York CIty.”
– “Can’t think of a better way to spend my money than with the library.”
However, there was one outlier in the crowd.
Dennis Mankin, supervisor from 2007 to 2009, said other municipalities have a dedicated tax millage set aside for their libraries which they oversee.
“Given how the funding is done – handing it over without any oversight whatever – I think it’s a question you should be asking yourself,” he said.
The supervisors will use the comments to decide if and how to go forward with further library funding.