Bixby’s requests backed

VERGENNES — Residents in four of the communities that Bixby Free Memorial Library serves agreed on Tuesday to make substantial increases in their towns’ yearly contributions to the Vergennes library, the first time towns have upped their annual ante since 2002.
In all, Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton and Waltham will add about $17,600 to their annual contributions during their upcoming fiscal year, to a total of  about $51,200.
Bixby board president Kitty Oxholm said the library trustees are thankful for the support expressed in the series of votes, financial backing that they said is critical to meet a gap in the library’s operating budget without further dipping into its shrinking endowment.
It was the board’s first request for more town support since 2002. The stock market dip in 2008 made the situation critical; until then, interest on the endowment paid for a larger share of the library’s annual operating expenses of about $174,000. The endowment shrank from $450,000 to $350,000 in recent years as the Bixby board used it to meet the library’s expenses.
“We’re very grateful the citizens of our area realize the importance of the Bixby and understand where we are at this point in our financial straits,” Oxholm said. “We hope to continue to earn their trust, and we look forward to a long time of serving them.”
In order to close the remaining gap, Bixby officials will also ask for an increase from Vergennes aldermen, who hold the city’s purse strings and will set the 2010-2011 municipal budget by June.
In all, the Bixby board hopes to raise the five towns’ contributions from $53,600 to about $80,000. Vergennes now contributes $20,000 a year in cash, plus contributes lawn care, snow removal and bookkeeping. Another $9,000 in funding would allow the library board to reach its goal.
Oxholm said Bixby trustees plan to meet with aldermen within the next month.  
“We know they, like all the other communities, are struggling, but we hope they will meet our need as well,” she said. “In this economy we all know we’re all in this together, and we’re all facing the same challenges.”
Town by town, the increases approved this week were:
• $10,000 in Addison, up from $7,004 for the past eight years. Addison residents approved the increase by Australian ballot on Tuesday.
• $29,000 in Ferrisburgh, up from $18,000. Ferrisburgh residents adopted the increase by voice vote at Tuesday’s town meeting.
• $7,959 in Panton, up from $6,300. Panton residents voted on Tuesday by Australian ballot on that request.
• $4,278 in Waltham, up from $2,300. Waltham residents approved that request by voice vote at their Monday town meeting.
Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected].

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