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Library Budget Represents A 2 Percent Tax Increase

Largest increase is legal fees for over 2-year contract negotiations with staff

Four hours had been set aside on April 4 for residents to register to vote on April 17 for library trustee and the library budget, but no one showed up. That same evening, in the community room of the library, the 2012-13 proposed budget was presented and following questions by residents, passed. The Trombettas did the heavy lifting and represented their Manhasset neighbors at the 7 p.m. meeting with well thought out questions and requests for clarification on several issues. Also present at the budget hearing was the wife of a trustee, the library program director and the Manhasset Press.

The total tax for last year 2011-12 was $4,659,705; for 2012-13 it is $4,752,786, representing an increase of $93,081 or a 2 percent tax increase, within the allowed 2 percent tax cap.

Total expenses for 2012-13 are shown here along with figures from 2011-12 in parenthesis for comparison. Total operating expenses $3,784,497 ($3,658,461); fewer anticipated receipts $83,680 ($109,050); total operating budget $3,700,817 ($3,549,411); debt service $1,051,969 ($1,110,294); total tax $4,752,786 ($4,659,705).

The debt service figure is less due to a reduction established when the bonds were refinanced and it was said the refinancing will save $900,000.

The budget summary was divided into four major categories: salaries and benefits $2,743,304 ($2,715,221); materials $258,250 ($225,300); operating expenses $341,800 ($305,640) and building and maintenance $441,143 ($412,3000).

Under salaries and benefits, the pension plan was approximately $21,000 less because, it was said, senior employees retired. Gough said, and later confirmed, there are 19 full-time employees and 30 part-time employees and that is, she said, within the civil service guidelines. Of the full-time employees, eight are librarians with four each in the children and adult sections, she said, and there are 3-4 part- time librarians. The rest of the staff is clerical or have specialized professional titles. Gough said it is a library trend, and a reality, to cross-train the staff enabling them to give preliminary assistance to a patron in situations where a librarian is not needed.

Under operating expenses, “professional fees and expenses” increased from $69,400 to $110,000, because, library director Maggie Gough said, of costs associated with the contract with the staff that has been in negotiations for two years. Also, Gough said, money was put aside as they are in the process of being sued by several people who have fallen on the premises.

Under building and maintenance, management continues to add to the building replacement fund, this year $22,000; last year, the first year of the line item, they allocated $20,000.  The building is now 7 years old. It was said that in the 1990s the school district adopted a “pay as you go” approach to school building maintenance and in later years paid heavily for that decision. The library wants a fund to pay for necessary repairs. “The building,” they agreed, “is getting older.”

Another new line item, $50,000 for RFID, or radio frequency information device, was questioned. It is a tag embedded in library materials that can be scanned for information, for instance allowing the staff to scan a shelf for what is missing. It is expensive and will be phased in, they said.

Gough mentioned the Better World Book program. A receptacle will be placed outside the library for residents to place any books they no longer want nor feel the library can use. Gough said 10 libraries on Long Island are participating, the library receives a small percentage, around 3 percent; it is a green initiative, and the books are put to good use. “The staff,” she said, “is 100 percent behind us.”

Joanne Kesten was appointed to fill the trustee position vacated by Joseph T. Vogel, who tendered his resignation effective August 2011. Kesten will have completed Mr. Vogel’s term and is running unopposed for the five-year position.

The budget vote and trustee election will be held in the community room of the library on Tuesday, April 17, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.