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Library budget gets voter approval — Vote tally: 83 yes, 6 no

The worst of foul weather predicted on the East End Saturday held off to give 89 Islanders a chance to cast ballots approving a $875,056 budget plan to operate the Shelter Island Library in 2022. It represents a $31,830 increase expected to be spent next year over 2021.

The vote was 83 in favor and 6 opposed to approving the spending plan.

The budget will need $719,806 from taxpayers or about 82% of total spending. The rest of the budget is financed through fundraising activities and contributions, with Friends of the Library leading the way in raising money, Library Director Terry Lucas said.

“We’re really pleased and really happy,” she said, noting that on a rainy day, so many trekked to the library to cast their votes. “We’re excited to move ahead with the plans for the year ahead.”

Taxpayers whose property assessed at $824,000 are expected to see an increase of $6.96 for the year, according to information provided by tax assessors.

The approximate cost of library services currently costs about $246 per person, Library Treasurer Donald Regan said. That’s significantly less than the cost to taxpayers in other East End towns to operate their libraries, he said.

There are increases in the cost of technology services, and in health insurance for staff, as well as small raises. In 2020, when the library staff had to realign thinking about how to function during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no raises. The staff raises make for an increase in employee taxes and benefits from $586,331 to $599,232.

To keep the Library safe during the pandemic continues to mean more money has to be spent on cleaning needs. New air handlers were installed this year to provide enhanced safety against the air-borne illness.

At this time a year ago, there was no budget vote and maintenance of the previous year’s spending plan in recognition that some patrons lost jobs or experienced salary cutbacks, Ms. Lucas said.