The board, in a 3-2 vote Thursday night, passed a resolution placing a referendum question on the Nov. 5 general election ballot that will ask township voters if they want to continue paying a 6-cent levy on every $1,000 of assessed value for services at the Allentown Public Library or any other library.
Commissioners Robert Martucci, James Brown and James Seagreaves voted in favor of the resolution. Commissioners Debra Brinton and Joanne Ackerman voted against the resolution.
Salisbury Township does not have a public library. Residents either use the Allentown Public Library or other area libraries. If the library levy is lifted -- a tax that averages about $15 per year -- those who want to use out-of-town library services would have to pay for it out of pocket.
Renee Haines of the Allentown Public Library told commissioners that cost is $40 per year, per household.
Brinton said she'd received phone calls and e-mails from township residents asking that commissioners not get rid of library services.
"Why are we doing this?" Brinton said.
"I've had people who heard about this and asked me where we're building the new library," Ackerman said.
Martucci said the referendum, if passed, was one way of softening the blow of looming tax increases. "It's no secret that tax increases are looming down the road," Martucci said.
Haines told commissioners that 2,366 households in Salisbury Township have someone holding a library card. Haines said as of July of this year, a total of 3,210 had checked out an item from the Allentown Public Library.
Brown said that he's had a library card for between 18 and 20 years and has never utilized the library.
Haines said for every $34 in library tax spent, the average resident borrows seven books per year.
"We have to educate our residents on our website that it's not just a library anymore," Ackerman said. "It's a cost-effective savings for parents."
Haines pointed out that many people in Salisbury Township do not have Internet service and depend on the library for that.
Ackerman said that since this is an off-year election, a small turnout might hurt the referendum's chances of passage.
"That just means you have to reach out to people who want the library and get them to vote," Seagreaves said.
The current township library tax system began in 1993. The township pays approximately $81,559 from taxes collected in order for citizens to utilize libraries in other jurisdictions, mainly Allentown.
Any change to the current township library policy would not occur until Jan. 1, 2015. The Allentown library must be notified of the change by April 1, 2014 and the library levy would end at the beginning of 2015.