Library asking voters for 6 percent increase

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Shelter Island Public Library Treasurer William Martens had an easy night Wednesday as only he, Library Director Denise DiPaolo and two board members were present at a public hearing designed to make the case for approval of the 2014 budget.

While only Shelter Island Public Library officials and board members were at Wednesday night’s hearing on the proposed $614,327 budget for 2014, Library Director Denise DiPaolo hopes she can count on voters to approve the request.

Voting at the library takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 26.

What voters will be looking at is a proposition to raise $540,436 from tax revenues, with the remainder of the budget being financed by contributions and fund raising, grants, fines and fees and interest income.

The library’s planned spending for 2014 results in a 6 percent tax increase that would pierce the 2 percent cap on the tax levy imposed by New York State. The board voted 13-0 to allow the cap to be pierced. It would cost taxpayers with property assessed at $640,000 about $6.25 more next year, bringing their total bill to support the library to $100.86.

What Ms. DiPaolo and Library Board Treasurer William Martens want tax payers to factor in is how much more in services and materials they are getting for their money than just five years ago.

In 2008  the library offered no Wi-fi service and there were no e-book downloads available. There were 10,000 fewer patrons visiting the library then, and 41,000 books were checked out, while this year’s figures show 70,546 checkouts. Today, 6,690 people use library computers while five years ago, that number was at 2,100. And the total number of programs offered by the library were at 220 then and today they total 684.

The library is the only tax-supported entity on Shelter Island that must do fund raising to cover operating expenses, including salaries, Mr. Martens said. And while libraries once supplied books, magazines and newspapers, today’s library provides many more materials, Ms. DiPaolo said. The budget for books and other materials is projected to rise by $9,200 from current spending of $48,150. It’s thanks to sharing among Suffolk Country libraries that costs for such materials are able to be managed, Ms. DiPaolo said. Inter-library loans will be available on Saturday to benefit weekenders, Ms. DiPaolo said.

The library is also expanding its hours, opening at 9:30 instead of 10 a.m.

Overall projected spending for 2014 would be $36,636 more than the current year’s budget of $577,691.

Much of the increase results from spending the board can’t control such as health insurance, fuel oil and insurance, Ms. DiPaolo said.

There are small increases projected for library staff salaries and benefits. That amounts to $9,739 more than it has cost this year and covers three full-time staffers and seven part-timers.

Other increases include utilities, telecommunications and building maintenance that are up by $1,799 and property and liability insurance up from $12,200 to $13,999.

Copies of the projected budget with comparisons to the current spending plan are available at the library.