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Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to help support continued funding for public libraries has been signed into law.

“Libraries have been an integral part of learned and progressive society for centuries upon centuries,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “This bill is intended to increase transparency with regard to how libraries are funded. Once taxpayers see, in writing, the portion they pay to support their library, I think they’ll agree it is a sound investment that is worth their support.”

The law (S-2068/A-2679) will require municipalities in which a free public library is located, or municipalities that belong to a joint municipal library, to provide for a dedicated library purposes tax on the property tax bill. The law also requires a municipality to pay the library or joint municipal library the funds due to the library on a quarterly basis.

Under current law, property taxpayers in a municipality that belongs to a county library receive property tax bills that include a line item showing the amount the taxpayer is paying to support the county library.

The new law will remove the appropriations for municipal libraries and joint municipal libraries from a municipality’s general fund and provide a dedicated line item on the property tax bill to more clearly illustrate for taxpayers how much of their property taxes go to support their library. The law will not amend the funding formula for municipal and joint public libraries, which is 33 cents per $1,000 of assessable property.

“Libraries are the heart of many of our communities and are of particular value to working class families who have no other access to books and the Internet,” added Chivukula. “By giving them their own dedicated funding line, we can help protect them against politics and potential budget cuts that might send our state in the wrong direction.”