Voters reject Brookville library funding district plan

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Voters have soundly rejected a plan to create a Brookville Library Funding District by a 9-to-1 ratio, making it unlikely another attempt will be made soon to provide full services for residents in parts of five North Shore Nassau villages.

The 2,150 residents in portions of Brookville, Upper Brookville, Old Brookville, Matinecock and Muttontown not served by a public library were eligible to vote Tuesday in a referendum arranged by the Nassau Library System on creating the funding district. Under state law, the system is responsible providing all residents the opportunity for full library services.

If residents voted yes, they would have also selected which of three libraries to contract with to provide them full services: Locust Valley, Gold Coast in Glen Head or Oyster Bay-East Norwich. But the measure on the district was defeated 181-21, not counting 18 affidavit ballots and 21 absentee ballots.

"It's a pretty strong vote in opposition, so I'm not sure what we'll do yet," said state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), who sponsored the bill to allow the vote. Since the enabling legislation expires at the end of this month, he said he will have to talk to Nassau library officials about the next step, if any.

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At two meetings before the vote, there was little support for the plan. Some residents complained about being taxed without being able to vote on a library budget or trustees. Others said they don't use a library or want to, so they didn't want to pay more taxes.

"It was a result of poorly crafted legislation, a taxing methodology with no voting rights and a lack of full disclosure by the library system and the libraries themselves" about the lack of voting rights, said Upper Brookville resident Tormey Santolli, the most vocal opponent. "They did not want to pay more taxes. Enough is enough."

He added that "it was not a well-publicized vote," which led people to believe library officials were trying to put something over on them.

Another problem was that, because of the high property values in the unserved areas of the five villages, the contracting residents would have paid more per household than residents within the libraries' own service districts, opponents complained.

The vote came two years after a similar initiative was stymied when there were problems printing absentee ballots and making other arrangements in time, and because of questions about the phrasing of the referendum.

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