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Library budget projects an increase

JULIE LANE PHOTO Library Board Treasurer William Martens and Library Director Terry Lucas are ready with a budget that would slightly increase taxes for Islanders if the spending plan wins voter approval.
Library Board Treasurer William Martens and Library Director Terry Lucas are ready with a budget that would slightly increase taxes for Islanders if the spending plan wins voter approval.

If residents give the O.K. at the end of October, the Shelter Island Library’s proposed spending for 2019 will increase by $37,229 with $28,453 of that coming from taxes.

What that means to Islanders’ pocketbooks is if a home was assessed last year at $800,000, the increase will be $6.40 over last year’s bill.

Library Director Terry Lucas and Board Treasurer William Martens noted that the total spending plan of $772,974 will cost taxpayers $660,737. The tax dollars supporting the library represent about 85 percent of spending, a low figure for Suffolk County libraries.

The rest of the revenue is projected to come from the following sources:
• Contributions and fundraising, $63,130.
• Grants, $21,300.
• The library’s annual appeal, $20,000.
• Fines and fees, $7,407.
• Interest income, $400.

The largest spending increases for 2019 are for health insurance benefits, largely due to the addition of one staff member, Mr. Martens said. Increases for utilities, telecommunications and building maintenance are also expected to be up in 2019.

Ms. Lucas described the library as a “vibrant meeting place,” providing resources for residents of all ages, but the result of its heavy usage is the wear and tear on infrastructure.

In the past year, the library has served 3,248 library card holders with 104,660 visits to the facility. There were 19,325 connections made to the internet on computers and through WiFi connections; 823 programs offered with a total of 9,756 patrons attending various events.

Ms. Lucas pointed out that a side door to the building needs to be replaced in the year ahead, both for energy conservation and security. She plans to have PSEG conduct a full energy assessment of the building to explore other areas for savings. She wants to “green up the library” by installing LED lights and other initiatives.

The director and Mr. Martens said that, although there was a major building project completed a couple of years ago, the structure is aging and they would be short-sighted not to expect a need for repairs.

Public and staff computers are also aging and will need to be replaced. The cost of materials, e-resources and equipment maintenance and repair also continue to increase. The library has been calling on the services of school technology specialist Jeremy Stanzione for advice about what’s needed.

Ms. Lucas has been reaching out to groups around the Island and is working closely with School Superintendent Christine Finn.

The advanced placement tests for students will take place in 2019 at the library where Ms. Lucas said she can provide a quiet space for the testing.

In addition to working with the school administration, relationships are being nurtured with the town’s recreation department, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, Mashomack Preserve, the Shelter Island Historical Society and the Perlman Music Program.

Working through the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, the library has provided more extensive e-books and audio books and developed the Stuart Upchurch Buice Garden Book Collection, thanks to the generosity of the Buice family, Ms. Lucas said.

A public hearing on the budget is slated for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, with the vote at the library set for Saturday, October 27, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To vote, a resident must be at least 18 years old and been an Island resident for at least 30 days before the balloting. Registration to vote takes place at the library between 2 and 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 18.

Voters may apply for absentee ballots at the District Clerk’s office at Shelter Island School on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. or online at shelterisland.k12.ny.us and must be completed and returned to the clerk at least seven days before the vote.

All absentee ballots must be received by 1 p.m. on Friday, October 26.