Merging South Hadley libraries could increase property taxes

120 appointed town meeting members will decide whether the two libraries should merge

In this photo taken on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, books written by inmates and published while serving jail time are placed on a table at the National Library in Bucharest, Romania. Romania’s crackdown on corruption and fraud in recent years has created a sudden and unexpected literary boom, as prisoners publish hundreds of non-fiction books on subjects as varied as soccer, real estate, God and gemstones. (AP Photo)

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) –  Property taxes could go up for South Hadley homeowners, depending on Wednesday’s special town meeting.

South Hadley Town Meeting members will vote on Article 22, which would merge the South Hadley public library with the privately operated Gaylord Memorial Library across from Mount Holyoke College. The Gaylord Library needs help to stay open after it’s endowment started diminishing.

If approved, the town public library would operate the Gaylord. The changes involve some expenses, including the salaries for 3 part-time employees at Gaylord. Although the Gaylord Memorial Library is privately run, it receives public funding. Right now, the town provides it $35,000 annually, but when you factor in those employee benefits, it comes out to just under $44,000 every year.

Add that to $30,000 in operating expenses, and the cost could be between $78,000 and $91,000 dollars. Town administrator Michael Sullivan said taxpayers would only pay pennies more each year, but there’s debate whether those pennies could be better spent. Sullivan told 22News, “Could it be used for the schools, or the police? Could it be used for sidewalk improvements? They really don’t identify one area that they would like to spend more on. As a matter of fact, it’s usually how we should be thinking about spending less on government as a whole.”

120 appointed town meeting members will make the decision Wednesday night. Wednesday night’s meeting is at 8:00 p.m. at the town hall auditorium. 22News will bring you the results as soon as they become available.