Proposed $5.2M Manhasset library budget calls for 1.16% tax increase

Max Zahn

Residents will go to the Manhasset Public Library on Wednesday to vote on its $5.29 million proposed 2017-18 budget, which takes on increased salary and health insurance costs but slightly cuts programming and online database expenses.

The budget calls for a tax increase of 1.16%, a rate that falls within state tax cap limits.

“The priorities were to keep it under the cap,” said Maggie Gough, the executive director of the Manhasset Public Library. “That’s it. To make sure we’re as close as possible to historic averages on every one of the items.”

The proposed budget calls for raising $5,186,492 in taxes, which amounts to an increase of $59,686.

The largest cost increases include an additional $108,000 for salary expenses and $56,205 for employee health insurance.

Gough described these expenses as “fixed costs,” which involved “contractual obligations the library has to its staff.”

She said the cost of health insurance doubled.

Notable cuts include an $8,400 decrease in spending on online databases and a $5,000 decrease for periodicals and microfilm.

“We were able to deselect some of the online catalogues because of low usage, so we’re not keeping anything we’re not using,” Gough said.

The budget also features a $10,850 decrease in spending on programs like lectures.

“Some of our programs will be done in-house; we won’t be using as many outside programmers,” Gough said. “We’re shifting a little bit.”

Gough said the budget does not include anticipated spending on a $500,000 library repurposing project or an anticipated parking lot renovation, since funding for both will come out of the library’s capital reserves.

“We already have the moneys and they’re already funded,” Gough said. “I don’t have to ask the community for anymore.”

In February, the library issued a request for architects to send their qualifications for consideration for the repurposing project.

Gough described both the library repurposing and parking lot renovation as “in the formation process.”

The largest single expense in the budget is a $1,074,444 debt service payment on the bond taken out in 2005 for the cost of the library building.

The library will pay approximately $1 million in debt service for the bond each year until it completes payment in 2027, Gough said.

The Board of Trustees approved the proposed budget at a meeting on Feb. 15, and a public hearing was held on March 22.

Gough said the public hearing was not well-attended.

“Usually we don’t have a lot of people unless there’s a hot button issue,” Gough said.

“We’ve been really fiscally responsible for many, many years now,” she added. “We’ve gotten better at bringing in a budget as close as we can to our needs.”

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