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Library Budget Update

Mindful of voter outrage over rising taxes in hard economic times, board members of the Great Neck Library are anguishing over the 2011 budget percentage increase even though it might mean only a $20 increase per year in taxes for a home assessed at $1 million.

Cutbacks in staffing, hours of operation, and purchasing are being proposed to reduce the budget to $8.5 million, a 1.4 percentage increase from the 2010 budget. Whittling away at the budget while increasing the allotment to expand Station Branch has required a reallocation of resources.

There was no question that Station, the busiest branch, used by not only Plaza residents, but by commuters on their way home from work, could benefit from more space; it was, perhaps, politically unfortunate that the timing of the lease renewal coincided with dismal economic days.

The board has put forth an early retirement incentive plan, but eligible employees have until April 15 to make a decision and therefore the board will not know the exact amount of savings until then. On April 20, the board will adopt a final proposed budget and on May 18, the public will vote on it.

Opening the Main library an hour later on Saturdays will result in savings of $104,300. Closing Main at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. on Fridays would result in a savings of almost $40,000. (According to library director, Jane Marino, at times the number of staff members present has exceeded the number of patrons.) If Station is kept open later on Fridays, the cost would be $10,985. So far, the board members have been reluctant to propose the Friday evening change in services.

Other cuts that have been viewed favorably include eliminating one Sunday service in June at Main, cutting one staff person on Sunday, reducing circulation and reference staff at Main, reducing the allocation for the computer consultant and slicing the materials and programs by 10 percent.

It should be noted that the library has not had a tax increase in five years.

Another major decision at the last board meeting was the adoption of a Long Range Plan, but that will be covered in a future article.