Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 26 March 2010 00:00
The board of trustees approved the 2010/2011 Library Operating Budget at the Port Washington Public Library budget hearing and meeting on March 17. The public will vote on the budget on April 6.
Due to increases to the budget from state mandates, the board is looking to increase the tax levy by 1.88 percent. However, the board emphasized that they managed to decrease many other items in the budget through careful planning, as to not pass on all of the mandated increases to taxpayers.
Executive Director Nancy Curtin explained that the mandated increases are under the salary and benefits portion of the expenditures. “We’ve had a substantial increase in retirement costs and health costs this year. Retirement costs increased by about $125,000 and health costs increased by about $30,000.” She added, “The total increase we are seeing year over year in the tax levy is actually less than those two costs combined. We’ve tried to hold or reduce our other expenditures in order to achieve that.”
Going into greater detail on items that were decreased in the budget, Curtin noted that they are applying a portion of what they anticipate will be a balance from this year to reduce the tax levy for next year. She added that the library’s green initiatives have been helping to save money. “We’ve also been working very hard on green initiatives here in the library to reduce our utility costs and reduce our fuel costs and we have seen substantial savings there,” she said. Additionally, Curtin said that when employment positions at the library are vacated, they study these positions closely and have actually eliminated two this year through attrition.
To further explain how much the board eliminated from the budget, Trustee John O’Connell added, “Were it not for those mandated increases, our budgeted expenses this year would actually be lower than last year.”
Trustee Lee Aitken provided more information on how these costs are mandated. “The comptroller sends us a statement as to what we have to contribute to the pension plan. We have no choice – it’s not discretionary,” he said. “If the comptroller says, ‘add 10 percent to your budget,’ we have to put 10 percent of our budget to the state pension contribution.”
Trustee Myron Blumenfeld also accentuated that these mandated increases were more than the increased tax levy. “We had to decrease in other areas – our lights, we dropped two positions here, we’ve done a lot of other things – because suddenly the state says, ‘you owe us more money.’ We have to fund these things and we did not pass all of that on to our taxpayers,” he said, and added that they significantly reduced their electricity consumption, which is passing on a big savings to the taxpayers.
Aitken moved to present this budget to the taxpayers for the annual vote on April 6, and the board unanimously agreed.
The board also spent a great deal of time talking about roofing proposals they have received, since they are planning on putting in a new roof over the section of the library that was untouched by the expansion. In an effort to green the library even more, they are looking to install a solar roof. The board received a wide range of bids from architects and discussed it at great length to understand these costs. Consequently, they decided to have a pro bono professional look into these proposals soon to give them advice on how to move forward.
During the Director’s Report, Nancy Curtin announced that she will be presenting again at the YAI’s 31st Annual International Conference on Developmental and Learning Disabilities, on behalf of the library’s “Books for Dessert” program. “Books for Dessert” is a book club for adults with intellectual disabilities. Curtin stated that this program is a rarity and that there are very few programs like this, nationally. She explained that they developed this program with the help of local parents who have adult children with intellectual disabilities. “Their parents were looking for something else to extend their intellectual life, so they came to the library, and we certainly felt that a book club is something that should be open to everyone,” she said. “We started with eight people and we now have three fully running groups that meet every week, with a total of about 30 to 35 people. With the help of our advisory committee, which are volunteers, we have written a manual, that will now be available to all public libraries in the U.S., should they want to replicate the program.”
The YAI is focusing on literacy this year, and Nancy Curtin’s presentation is titled, ‘Literacy, the Next Big Thing: Why and How to Develop a Community-Based Adult Literacy Program.’ Curtin also added that the YAI is very selective over their presenters, so they are very happy to have been invited back.
Lee Aitken noted several important dates, including the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast, which will be held on Sunday, April 18, from 10:30 to 12:30. “It is the library’s opportunity to thank all of the wonderful people who volunteer their services to make this institution a great institution,” he said.
Aitken also reiterated that April 6 is the annual budget vote and trustee election. John O’Connell is up for re-election, and is running uncontested.