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Opinion

I am the president of the board of trustees of the Port Washington Public Library and I am writing to respond to the letter that appeared in the last issue of the Port Washington News. The library board is keenly aware of its responsibilities to the taxpayers of Port Washington, and prepares a budget that responsibly plans for the library's operation for the coming year. Responsible budgeting calls for the maintenance of a fund balance. A fund balance is monies set aside to be used for emergency situations. Fund balance is clearly reported in the library's financial reports, in the proposed budget mailed to every household in the community, and it has been discussed at public budget hearings.

The library's auditor has consistently recommended that the library maintain a fund balance of 5 to 10 percent of its budget. The fund balance had dropped significantly below this amount to 2 percent, but as a result of careful fiscal management and some unanticipated revenue, the fund balance has been restored to a more appropriate level of $373,065 or 6.5 percent of our operating budget. From this amount, $60,000 will be applied to the 2006 operating budget to reduce the tax levy. Consequently, the fund balance is projected to be reduced to 5 percent of the library's operating budget - the lowest level recommended by the library's auditors.

The New York State Comptroller's Office states that a reasonable amount of unappropriated unreserved fund balance may be retained consistent with prudent budgeting practices, necessary to ensure the orderly operation of their government and the continued provision of services.

Other than a modest increase in book purchases, no increases in the budget have been made except for those mandated by the state retirement system, health care increases and negotiated contracts with staff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the CPI rose 3 percent over last year. A 3.99 percent increase in the library budget, while slightly higher than this, holds the line on virtually all spending that is not mandated.

Julie Geller


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