By GAIL OBER,LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILMANTON — The Gilmanton Year-Round Library has once again asked the taxpayers for $48,500 for its annual operations costs but after failing last year, people are wondering what effect the results of a townwide survey about it will mean.
While nobody spoke either for or against the measure at the Budget Committee's public hearing last month, Budget Committee Chairman Brian Forst said that there is really nothing new to talk about.
"People will either support it or they won't," he said.
The new piece of information voters have this year is the results of a town-wide survey commissioned by the library to learn what voters think about the library itself and whether or not the town should fund its operating costs.
Sent in August of 2016, about 20 percent or 343 of the 1,715 surveys were returned. Of those 343 people, 86 percent or 295 respondents are familiar with the library, 93 percent or 318 respondents said they knew the library cards are free and 64 percent or 219 had them.
Most respondents, 83 percent or 284 people, voted in the March 2016 town election and 60 percent of them or 171 people said they supported spending $50,000 to fund GYRL operation costs. Thirty-nine percent of those who responded to the survey and voted in the 2016 election, or 112 people, voted against funding.
The 2016 warrant article was narrowly voted down by a 51-to-49 percent margin.
Of the respondents who voted against funding, 55 percent said it was because they were under the impression that the year-round library would never ask for taxpayer money and 38 percent said it was because they were concerned about the tax rate. Smaller percentages of respondents said they didn't think the town needed a full-service library and some said they don't use it.
Respondents were allowed to check any, all or none of the reasons why they voted against funding, so with the information provided it's not possible to tell how many voted for what reason.
Overall, the survey takers determined that the people who do use the year-round library like it very much and that the majority of the people who vote against funding do so because either they think the town promised not to ask taxpayers for money or they are concerned with the tax impact.
Demographically, survey takers determined that people who are younger, who have higher levels of education and who have lived in Gilmanton for fewer than 10 years are more likely to support funding for the library.
The survey was performed by The Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire.
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