UVM map tool compares per capita police spending to library spending across municipalities

By Tucker Houston | Community News Service

Do you know how much your town spends on its library? What about police?

You could find out with a new interactive map tool from UVM’s Center for Research on Vermont. Student researchers Andrew Langdon and Maggie Adams have compiled data on 101 Vermont towns and the money each spends on its library and police department from voter-approved 2022 budgets and proposed 2023 budgets.

The results: Sixty-one towns spend more on police, while 40 put more money toward libraries, according to a press release from the center.

Burlington Police

Burlington, the most populous city in the state with more than 42,500 residents, has a police budget of $16.2 million and a library budget of about $2.4 million, a difference of almost 150%.

Towns spend about $143,000 on libraries and about $756,000 on police — about a 135% increase. For a handful of towns, the spending difference is in multiples of ten.

Center director Richard Watts struck a hopeful tone when looking at the research. “Spending more on books than police is probably true of more than 100 Vermont towns, if you extrapolate this to all 251 Vermont towns,” he said.

The project examined towns ranging in population from 200 residents to more than 6,000.

Smaller towns generally spend more on their libraries compared to their police departments, according to the research.

Charlotte, a town of just under 4,000 people, has a police budget of $20,000 compared to a library budget of about $285,500, a nearly 175% difference. That trumps Burlington, the most populous city in the state with more than 42,500 residents, which has a police budget of $16.2 million and a library budget of about $2.4 million, a difference of almost 150%.

Not all small communities favor library spending over money for police. Vergennes, the state’s smallest city at around 2,500 residents, spends almost 16 times more on police services than it does on its library.

Some towns do not have a police budget, as they contract with state police for law enforcement services. In Windham and Windsor counties for instance, where the Vermont State Police opened a barracks in 2016, the majority of communities are covered by troopers, according to the agency.

Weston, a town in Windsor County with a population of 612, spends $70,000 annually on their libraries and nothing on police because the town is under state police coverage.

“Growing up in a small Vermont town, I have always been a fan of our local library,” said Adams. “It was good to see that small towns continue to commit funds to support their library.”

The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.

Images courtesy of UVM and Burlington Police
Spread the love

3 thoughts on “UVM map tool compares per capita police spending to library spending across municipalities

  1. Comparing police to library resources??? …like comparing donuts to motorcycles.
    Some level of policing and a credible court system to back it up is a necessary backbone
    of ANY civilized society. Since the dawn of the internet, the town library is largely unnecessary and is just another “community space” that most town already have several of. For some towns, it provides “niche” cultural activities like drag queen story hour and in the case of Burlington, the restrooms are used for all kinds of nefarious purposes, to the extent where they have to limit access and take the doors off of stalls.
    Yea, they’re nice, but we pretty much can do without libraries now. However when we limit spending on crime control, people get preyed upon.

  2. The map is a great example of research producing meaningless data relationships.
    Did they have a hypothesis about this relationship that they were trying to prove?

    “Center director Richard Watts struck a hopeful tone when looking at the research.”
    Really? Maybe the director should pay more attention to how he spends our taxes.

    Merely gleaning data from town budgets on seemingly unrelated subjects borders on a stupid waste of time and resources.

    This is just social “science”, which is a good example of a poor excuse for real science.

Comments are closed.