I’m appalled by the Ellsworth City Council’s decision to slash $100,000 from the Ellsworth Public Library’s budget. As a year-round Ellsworth resident and taxpayer, the library contributes significantly to my quality of life. When my husband and I chose to buy a home in Ellsworth, the quality of the library was one of the factors that heavily influenced our decision. I understand that difficult times are ahead of us, and that councilors are frustrated that residents from other towns are using the library without adequate compensation, but slashing services for Ellsworth taxpayers doesn’t seem like an equitable way to address this problem.
I don’t imagine the council is intending to slash the school budget in such a draconian fashion, yet the library is also an educational resource, a resource that’s available to everyone, not just young people, and provides many services for all Ellsworth residents, including seniors. If hours and staff are reduced, there will inevitably be a negative impact on the services the library is able to offer. This will fall particularly heavily on struggling families and seniors for whom COVID-19 has made life even more difficult.
The June 18 issue of The Ellsworth American reported that in the current budget year, around $70 of every tax bill goes to support the library. Let’s think about that number. We’re talking around $5.84 per month, or less than 20 cents per day. And that’s per tax bill, not per person. We should be celebrating our good fortune in possessing such an exceptional resource that costs us so little, not targeting it to receive over 50 percent of the cuts planned for the city budget.
I implore the council to reconsider its decision and distribute any necessary budget cuts more equitably.