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Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Board Continues Budget Discussion

The Plainview Old Bethpage Library Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Monday evening in room C & D of the library. After meeting with their lawyer, Lawrence Tennenbaum, for over an hour to discuss staff performance and salary negotiation, the room was opened up to the public.

A wide array of topics were discussed during the hour-long public session. Among the most controversial was the decision of whether or not to pay a check written to the presenters of Chocolate Lovers 101, a children’s program held at the library in February detailing the many ways to incorporate chocolate into cooking.  

Board member Michael Polansky said that the program should not be paid for by the board. “Programs like ‘Chocolate Lovers 101’ are only contributing to childhood obesity in this community”, Polansky said. “They are performing a service and ultimately should get paid, but I don’t think we should be engaging them to perform this service because it is a detriment, rather than a positive force in the community.”     

Member Stefanie Nelkins disagreed with Polansky, saying that the check should be paid because the service was already provided and that the library should not damage their relationship with the presenters of the program. Upon voting on the issue, four out of the five members voted to pay the check.

Following the debate was a detailed report by library director Gretchen Browne. The report covered everything from the library’s finances to their new email marketing campaign.

Browne informed the board that changes to the proposed budget have been made in response to a request made at last month’s meeting. These changes include putting $25,000 from the proposed “special projects fund” into the category of “building maintenance.” Another $50,000, put away for future retirement expenses, would be put into the retirement line of the budget. 

“It helped us to balance the budget,” Browne said of how the library arrived at the specific figure. “It sounded like a good round number.”

Overall, $75,000 was taken from the capital fund and dispersed to other areas.

The proposed budget will be formally approved by the board at their April meeting. A spending policy will also be discussed at that meeting.

The final major issue discussed was patron delinquency. Currently, the library is owed $47,000 in fines. This is considered to be a low number when compared with other libraries on Long Island. Twenty-six individuals owe between $100-$150; three owe over $300. 

The library’s policy has always been to take outrageous offenders to small claims court, but a minimum number for doing that has yet to be determined. It has been many years since a patron was taken to court for back fines. The board requested of Browne that an official policy for dealing with library delinquents be written up by next month’s meeting. 

The board will meet again on April 20.