Manhasset library budget expands investment in materials

Teri West
Manhasset Public Library Trustee Donald O'Brien (left) and Director Maggie Gough present at the annual budget hearing on March 28. (Photo by Teri West)

Manhasset Public Library remained a top lender to other county libraries last year because of its robust collection, and the proposed budget for the upcoming year maintains and boosts its ability to invest in new materials, the director said last Thursday.

With the library proposing a $113,000 investment in books and $139,800 investment in electronic media and e-books in the new budget, it is upholding a commitment to maintaining and expanding its stock, Director Maggie Gough told the library’s annual budget. Overall, the library’s investment in materials would increase by 2.69 percent.

“Whereas most libraries across the country have seen a decrease in circulation, ours has been more or less steady,” Gough said.

An audience of about 15 gathered in the library’s Community Room with the Board of Trustees last Thursday evening to learn how the library operates financially and plans to implement its proposed $5.5 million budget for the 2019-20 operating year. The budget is up for a public vote April 10, along with two candidates competing for a seat on the Board of Trustees.

Of the $5.5 million proposed budget, about $5.4 million would be raised by taxes. The library had the opportunity to increase the budget by as much as 4.45 percent while staying within the tax cap, said Trustee Donald O’Brien, the board’s financial officer. Instead, the board is only proposing to increase it by 2.9 percent.

Salaries and associated personnel expenses are the most significant chunk of the budget. Salaries total $2.2 million.

Health insurance expenses of $653,200 would go to the library’s 19 full-time employees. That is about a $12,000 decrease from the current budget, as the state’s health insurance plan fluctuates year-to-year.

Program expenses, which would sit at $141,900, go to initiatives such as lendable museum passes. The museum pass program grew this year in both use and the number of museums offered, which now include popular Manhattan destinations such as The Guggenheim Museum, Gough said.

The building and maintenance budget would see an increase of 5.68 percent with most of the increase coming from utilities. Costs for utilities routinely increase with library use, O’Brien said.

The total budget increase of 2.95 percent is higher than both last year’s and the year before, which were 1.25 percent and 1.16 percent, respectively, O’Brien said.

“This year at 2.9 is reasonable when you look at the three years altogether,” he said.

The library lends more materials through the inter-library loan than any other library in the county, Gough said. It also sees many visitors, including some who use the second floor to work all day, every day of the week, she said.

The History Center on the second floor, which keeps archives and books about Manhasset, maintained its collection last year and partnered with the Manhasset Press to publish pieces about local history, the center’s archivist, Antonia Mattheou, said.

It has 140 documents uploaded online that anyone can view and had nearly 2,000 page views in the first three weeks of March alone.

Its physical archives had few new donations last year and welcomed 50 in-person visitors, Mattheou said.

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