GREENSBURG (KDKA) — There’s an effort to save the library system in a local community, but, as many things do, it all comes down to money.
The folks who manage the Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library system say they need an upcoming ballot referendum to pass to survive, but opponents say the ballot referendum is nothing more than another tax that they don’t want.
The referendum to “Save The Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library System” basically comes down this — yes or no on a $1 million property tax increase for voters in six municipalities, costing the average citizen, according to proponent and library volunteer Linda Matey, “approximately $22 a year.”
Which, according to library supporters, will keep the library afloat, but not everybody thinks the proposed tax is a good idea.
“I don’t believe that it should only be the property owners that pay for this,” Thomas Smith, a “Vote No” organizer, said.
Smith is the man behind the numerous “Vote No” signs popping up, usually near pro-referendum ones.
“When you’re spending 64 percent of your budget on wages and benefits and only 11 percent on books and stuff, there’s something wrong there,” he said.
Smith also firmly believes the whole concept of a public library is outdated.
“There’s school libraries. I have granddaughters, and if they’re doing a school project, they don’t go to the library, they go to the computer,” he said.
Matey, however, says the library is much more than books.
“We’re a community center,” she said. “We have artwork here. We have programs here, a lot of children’s programs. There are a lot of things that we do here that can’t be done at a school.”
As for Smith’s claims about bloated library staff expenses, Matey says nobody is getting rich working at the library.
“We are spending money on people, but we are a service organization,” she said.
As Election Day approaches, signs for and against the referendum are everywhere, and while Smith isn’t pointing fingers, he claims his “Vote No” placards are beginning to vanish.
“Somebody’s stealing them,” he said.
Smith says he’s filed a report with the state police.