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Shelter Island Library spending increasing

JULIE LANE PHOTO Voters will go to the Shelter Island Library between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, October 21, to act on a $735,748 budget proposal.

Voters will go to the Shelter Island Library between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, October 21, to act on a $735,748 budget proposal.

Shelter Island Library Director Terry Lucas, describing herself as “frugal,” said she works to secure grant money to cover some new programs and projects, while Friends of the Library have stepped up to finance others.

But rising costs still result in the need to raise money from taxpayers for an operation that is far more expansive than collections of books and magazines. Today’s library, while still providing those services, offers a wide array of programs for youths and adults.

When voters go to the library Saturday, October 21, it will be to act on a 2018 spending plan of $735,745, up from the current budget of $700,339. Overall spending calls for an increase of $35,406, with the amount funded by taxes for the increased spending at $27,227.

That translates to a tax increase of $3.59 on property assessed at a value of $500,000, according to Ms. Lucas.

She and Board of Trustees Treasurer Bill Martens explained increases result from expansion of programs and the need to upgrade technology. Health insurance premiums for employees are also increasing, and given the movement of salaries in New York State toward a $15 per hour minimum, there’s a need to begin to increase staff pay, Ms. Lucas said.

“We’ve got an amazing staff here,” Ms. Lucas said.”No one ever says, ‘It’s not my job.’”

Walter Brigham, who runs computer services for the school, worked with Ms. Lucas and the staff to advise on technology needs that turned around the vision of what would be needed at the library to keep up with the ever-changing world of computers.

“We spend the taxpayers’ money well,” she said. “We do a lot with a little.”

A few statistics reflect the more expansive use of library services, Mr. Martens said. Between June 30, 2016 and July 1 this year, there were 56,200 visits to the library with 58,151 books checked out. Library downloads of materials amounted to 5,546 and internet and WiFi log-ins totalled 39,744.

The library hosted 7,046 patrons at its 823 programs.

Not included in the budget, but expected to be funded through grants and contributions, is a use of space in the building so that children’s books will be moved downstairs while nonfiction materials more attractive to adults move upstairs. There will be new furniture and some construction involved with the transition, she said.

The move should provide more appropriate space for students who are likely to be more vocal and talk among themselves while adults needing quiet for their reading can be free of disturbances, Ms. Lucas explained.

“We want to meet the needs of both the kids and adults,” she said.

A public information session to explain the budget is set for Wednesday, October 11, at 5 p.m. with the vote on Saturday, October 21, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.