Elwood Museum tax levy issue faces voters
AMSTERDAM In addition to the vote on the Greater Amsterdam School District’s proposed budget next week, residents in the district will be asked to pay an additional $25,000 for the Walter Elwood Museum.
The museum, which has been housed in school district property at 300 Guy Park Ave. for the last 42 years, is moving to Guy Park Manor.
The district closed the building in August because it was a health and safety hazard, which effectively closed the museum as well.
Through the process of getting the building re-opened, district officials learned it was illegal to allow the museum to operate in its building rent-free. The district had picked up the utility cost to operate the building and maintained it.
With its move to Guy Park Manor, a building owned by the state Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, the museum won’t be paying rent but will be paying utilities, expected to be roughly $20,000, said Walter Elwood Museum director Anne Peconie.
Peconie said given the museum’s new expenses it couldn’t survive without the tax levy, which she said would cost the average homeowner about $2.20 per year.
The idea for the levy came after the museum was closed in August. Museum officials wanted it open as soon as possible and came up with a way to levy the money from the taxpayers that was legal and wouldn’t put additional strain on the school district.
The proposition was put on the May 19 ballot after 150 signatures for it were collected by museum volunteers and supporters
District attorney William Mycek said the tax levy would be an additional expenditure. The district still owns the building at 300 Guy Park Ave., and will still have to pay taxes and utilities at the building, which were the only expenses while the museum was there.
The additional tax also wouldn’t be factored in for people who receive the enhanced STAR exemption.
Gina DeRossi, who currently serves as president of the GASD school board, said while she fully supports the museum itself she does not support another tax for the area’s residents. “I support the museum wholeheartedly, it’s a great resource, but I think it’s best supported by donations that are tax deductible not as another tax levy on us,” she said.
The Greater Amsterdam School District would not be the first to levy a tax to offset the cost of a museum or library. The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District levies a similar tax to help the Fort Hunter and Frothingham Libraries.
“I believe this is a critical time for us to do this,” Peconie said. “It sets an important legacy. It’s like a protection system for the museum.”