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Library budget would cost $22,700 a year more

JULIE LANE PHOTO Library Director Terry Lucas and Board Treasurer William Martens
Library Director Terry Lucas and Board Treasurer William Martens

Shelter Island voters will be asked to provide $22,711 more in taxes over last year to support a $700,339 library budget for 2017 when they cast ballots on Saturday, October 22.

That translates to an additional $4.66 per household  based on a median home assessment of $777,000.

Additional spending results from increases in memberships and professional licenses, fees and dues of $64,874 as compared with $58,500 this year. Among such fees are membership in the Suffolk County Cooperative Library System that provides sharing services of books and materials among the various members.

There’s also an increase of $3,530 for books and other media the local library purchases to replace old and worn classics and bring the non-fiction materials up to date.

Because the library’s services extend beyond books and media to adult, young adult and children’s programs, it’s anticipated that spending in that area will increase from $12,500 to $17,350, Library Director Terry Lucas said.

Among the new popular programs this year has been the “Great Decisions” discussion groups that have brought in a number of people who haven’t used library services in the past, said William Martens treasurer for the library’s board of trustees.

Salaries and benefits, along with employee taxes, are up by $3,790, a smaller increase than might have resulted had there not been a number of staff turnovers in the past year, Ms. Lucas said.

Keeping the library open until 7 p.m. weeknights has required additional staffing, Ms. Lucas said.

As for revenues, in addition to taxes, Ms. Lucas expects to see more in grant money this year, increasing from $13,959 to $17,300. Among the grants is one that is between $1,500 and $2,000 to pay for materials to build an English as a Second Language section.

But the library board is expecting a drop in donations, contributions and fund raising in line with a still struggling economy on the Island, Ms. Lucas said. The library expects to see $57,316 by the end of the current fiscal year, as compared with a projected $54,832 for 2017.

Still, residents have been very generous. Most libraries in the Suffolk County System rely on tax money to support 90 percent or more of their budget, while Shelter Island looks to taxpayers for 86.4 percent of its spending.

Looking back on the past year, the library director said there have been almost 56,000 visits. With 36,384 conventional items in its collection, more than 30,477 items have been checked out by library card holders who number 3,734.

While a recent Pew Research Center report showed 64 percent of library users had checked out books in the last year, those 65 or older were less likely to have visited a library.

“We believe that statistic does not hold true for Shelter Island,” Ms. Lucas said.

Voting takes place at the library Saturday, October 22, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.