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Massena branch library campaign ‘going well’ in Brasher

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MASSENA - Organizers hoping to establish a branch library in Brasher Falls are continuing their efforts to gather signatures, with an eye toward more than they need.

Although they need only 80 signatures to get the proposition on the November ballot, Massena Public Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said they’re shooting for more just in case some of the signatures might be disqualified during a review after they’re turned in to the town clerk.

The 80 signatures represents 10 percent of the individuals who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

“They would like over 100,” she said.

At this point, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said, “it’s going well. I think they’re getting pretty close.”

She said four volunteers have been going house-to-house in Brasher to solicit signatures, and they also recently held an open house and ice cream social to gather more signatures. That was staged at Crapser Hall, located on the second floor of the former Boothe Building in downtown Brasher Falls, the site for the proposed branch library.

While volunteers are still visiting Brasher residences to seek signatures, anyone from the town who is interested in putting their name on the petition but hasn’t done so yet can call the library.

“We’re taking their name and number and giving it to the volunteers for the volunteer to come to them. They will come to them,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

The signer and the person observing the signature must both be Brasher residents.

“It has to be witnessed by a registered voter,” she said.

Plans to open a branch library were developed after a survey conducted several years ago by the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce indicated a strong interest in having a library in Brasher.

The chamber had sent 6,000 surveys out within a 10-mile radius of Tri-Town and approximately 2,800 were returned. On the second page, residents were able to indicate what they would like to see in the town. A grocery store was at the top of the list, followed by a library. Thirty percent of the 2,800 respondents wrote in library.

Following that survey, library officials were approached about a possible branch library. Massena Library trustees agreed during their monthly meeting in June to move ahead with the proposal, allowing them to begin gathering the necessary signatures.

They’ve set a $56,000 annual budget that would be covered by Brasher residents only through a tax.

Among the costs are $13,000 for the part-time manager’s salary and benefits. That person would be paid approximately $15.73 an hour for 15 hours a week. That cost is based on 50 percent of the highest paid part-time employee’s hours being spent at the branch. Their plan is to staff the branch library with a part-time employee who would not receive benefits.

It also includes $10,000 for furniture, $12,500 for a starter collection, $3,600 for heat and lights, $5,400 for the technology and automation startup and rent at $400 a month for a five-year lease.

The proposal also includes $2,700 for an initial marketing campaign, which is being donated by the Friends of the Massena Public Library.

The cost for Brasher residents would be an additional 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The current tax rate - for town and highway expenses and chargebacks from the county - in the town of Brasher is $5.43 per $1,000 of assessed value.

If they’re successful in their petition campaign, library officials will present the petitions to the Brasher town clerk to be added to the November ballot, when residents will make the ultimate determination if they want to financially support the branch library.

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