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Budget Is Bandied About

Library numbers challenged by trustee

The Village of Garden City Board of Trustees held its first budget session for 2014 on Tuesday evening, hearing reports on the Garden City Public Library and the village’s building department.

The library report, given by part time library monitor Steve Ilardi, compared its financial status in 2007-08 and 2009-10 to the current year, and displayed significant decreases in almost every category.

“Over the past several years, the library hours have been reduced from 62 to 53.5 per week  ­— a 13.7 percent reduction,” Ilardi said. “Since the 2009-10 budget year, the library materials budget has dropped $167k ($456k to $289k)—a 36 percent reduction.”

Other factors Ilardi gave were the library’s inability to buy all the latest editions available, a lack of part-time pages, and most library-sponsored adult programs having been eliminated.

Circulation items were also presented as down almost across the board, except for CD music, E-books and self renewals.

According to Ilardi, the total library budget for 2009-10 was $3,745,101—reduced 11.5 percent by 2013-14 to $3,315,070. The village contributions to the library also decreased 10.7 percent from 2009-10, coming in at $3,117,335 in 2013-14.

  The library had 24 full-time employees in 2007-08, and are currently down to 19. The part-time staff in 2009-10 was 46, which is now down to 26, and the part-time budget has decreased 82 percent since 2009-10. Part-time hours are anticipated to be 4,500 this year, an estimated reduction from 17,165 in 2009-10.  

Overtime hours are also down an estimated 52 percent to 11,000 from an estimated 23,000 in 2009-10.

Trustee Robert A. Bolebruch questioned the reports’ comparisons to the years 2009-10, and called the budget presentation “misleading.”

Bolebruch cited the reason for the decrease in village contributions as the library having “so many reserves at the time, the village decided the library didn’t need to maintain hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserves when the taxpayers were sitting there—if they weren’t spending the money, that’s why they brought the budget down.”

Chair of the Garden City Library Board of Trustees J. Randolph Calahan said, “(2009-10) is the last year before severe cuts were taken—back in 2009-10, we put through numbers that were presented and didn’t rely on the surplus.”

Calahan also disagreed with Bolebruch’s assessments, saying that at the time, the library had an assistant director who was never replaced after they left.

“Their salary was $100,000 plus benefits on top of that, and the assistant director was there for years in case the director was unavailable,” Calahan said.  “We now have a library director that is leaving, and we’re scrambling to find out who is going to take that position.”

Calahan also said the library had an excess of almost $150,000, which they chose to save.

“That’s why the surplus was there—we weren’t spending because we decided we’re not going to hire an assistant director,” Calahan said, who also indicated that there is an assumption built into the 2014-15 budget that there will be lower staffing.

Current Library Director Carolyn Voegler added to the presentation by stating the library is asking for an additional $29,000 based on anticipated costs of mandated health increases, added outsourcing for cleaning services, fees, increase in electrical costs and from the Citizens Budget Review Committee, their recommendation for increasing library materials.

“One step that the library board recently undertook was staffing differently on Sundays, so we’re looking at a savings and an incentive for someone who is going to put in for retirement,” Voegler said.

Concluding the library presentation, Calahan read a prepared statement, saying that due to reductions in budget funding, revenue and expenditures over the last several years, the amounts spent for staffing and library materials “has been particularly hit hard.”

“The library is unique in the village by being overseen by a village board of trustees consisting of resident volunteers who pay taxes and want to control those taxes,” Calahan said. “The library board feels that the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15 is fair, and is what is required to maintain current levels of service without any so-called ‘fat’ being eliminated.”

Superintendent Michael D. Fillippon delivered the building department budget report and stated “our revenue figure was very robust this year—we’ve had a number of big projects,” however he said he doesn’t expect it to be “the norm going forward.”

Fillippon said that figure represents a total value of construction of “well over $48 million that we have serviced by the time the year closes.”

Trustee Richard Silver asked Fillippon if he has noticed an uptick in construction in the village “as we move further from 2008,” which Fillippon said, “we’ve been pretty flat, not withstanding variations in the general economy.”

“I attribute that to the tremendous amount of confidence in the real estate market here,” Fillippon said. “People are still willing to invest in their homes, buy homes at market rate, tear them down and build new houses. If you look at the analysis going back, there have been no major anomalies.”

One issue that was brought up with the building department is the cost of repairs to some of the department’s 1995 model vehicles, which Fillippon said “we have pretty old vehicles that are spending more time in the shop and have more expensive repairs.”

He said the department has four sedans, and at the suggestion of Bolebruch to lease cars at an estimated $200 per month per car, the superintendent responded “if we folded in a new car at a certain regular interval, we could keep that car until it reaches at least 16, maybe 20 years old, and still have it functional.”

He added that it would require the department setting aside money each year to do that, and the department “has never been allowed to do that.”

Silver asked for data to be submitted on what the village is spending on cars as the issue will be further examined.

News

Budget adjustments, staff reductions recommended

The Garden City Board of Education will prepare to adopt next year’s school budget in a couple of weeks. Before they do, they’ll have to go over a few changes.

At the board’s public work session held at the high school on Wednesday, April 9, school superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen recommended a few adjustments, part of the annual balancing act that is the school budget.

The Garden City Board of Trustees approved a $55,791,023 operating budget at its April 7 meeting by a 7-0 vote (Trustee Theresa Trouvé was absent).

The spending plan requires a tax rate increase of 3.73 percent or an increase in tax of $224 to the average assessed single family home.


Sports

Commitment at Kellenberg

Garden City residents continue to excel while participating in the athletic program over at Uniondale’s Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, coaches of Kellenberg sports pick one player from their squad who has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the team through their hard work at practice and in competition.

The Village of Garden City has a long history of residents who've excelled both on the academic and athletic side of the ledger at Kellenberg. This time around, seniors Kelly O’Donnell (varsity cheerleading), Stacy Madelmayer (varsity girls basketball) and Bryan Salecker (swimming and diving team) have all been awarded the Commitment Award for their outstanding efforts, devotion, hard work and commitment to their respective teams.

Lady Panthers

start season 7-0

The number two ranked Adelphi Panthers Women’s Lacrosse team has gotten off to a fast start to their 2014 season and show no signs of slowing down. Head Coach Rob Grella, entering his third season at the helm, has led his team to an impressive 7-0 record to kick off their campaign. Six of the Panther’s first seven games have been won in commanding fashion in which they have outscored the opposition by a staggering margin of 122-14.

Last season, the Panthers continued their tradition of playing hard and fighting off tough challenges. They would finish the 2013 season with an impressive 11-1 record within the Northeast Ten Conference and overall at 18-3, making it to their fourth consecutive trip to the NE-10 Conference Championship where they eventually lost to Le Moyne.

Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: In Transition 2.0

Thursday, April 17

School Budget Meeting

Wednesday, April 23

Judi Mark One-woman Show At Library

Thursday, April 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com