There are several different ways a library can pursue funding through ballot initiatives. The best route for a particular library will depend several factors including, type of library, the chartered service area, and the community’s local logistics. See below for information on the different methods.
For general information on library districts, click here: Public Library Districts: An Introduction
School District Ballot Initiatives
NYS Education Law section 259 gives public libraries the ability to put a resolution on the school district ballot requesting funding from the taxpayers. If the proposition is worded correctly, it will become an annual appropriation for the library. Any increase must be approved by the voters of the school district. If a vote fails, the allocation reverts to the previous amount. For more information, check out the links below:
- School District Ballot – How to go about it – from DLD
- School Districts and Taxes for Public and Association Libraries: How the Partnership Works – from DLD
- School Ballot Referendum Toolkit – Revised 2019
Public Library Districts (AKA Chapter 414)
Public libraries also have the ability to put a budget proposition before the voter of a municipality. To do so, signatures must be collected numbering at least 10% of the number of votes for governor in the last gubernatorial election in the designated municipality. The petitions must be presented to the municipality- different municipalities have different rules on the timing. A simple majority vote is all that is required to pass the measure. For more information about Chapter 414, check out the following link:
- Inch By Inch, Row by Row – A very comprehensive work on the entire 414 process. Revised in 2009.
Special Legislative Districts
A Special Legislative District library is formed when legislation passes through the state government and voters approve the creation in a referendum. It is an arduous process. Once achieved, though, the library can enjoy stable funding. Each year, the Library Board passes a resolution to send the budget request to the voters. If the voters turn it down, the amount falls back to the previous year’s amount. This model calls for elected trustees. A special legislative district library can bond for capital improvements. For more information, check out the following links: