Residents approve $5.29M Manhasset Library budget

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Manhasset Public Library

Residents approved the Manhasset Public Library’s $5.29 million 2017-18 budget last Wednesday by a vote of 102 in favor and 24 against.

“I’m very happy to see it seems like we’re doing a good job,” said Maggie Gough, the executive director of the Manhasset Public Library. “The only thing I have heard honestly is a lot positive feedback. People like what we’re doing here; they like the programs.”

The 2017-18 budget includes increased salary and health insurance costs but slightly cuts programming and online database expenses. It calls for a tax increase of 1.16 percent, a rate that falls within state tax cap limits.

“Our budget was under the cap and I think the community supports us,” Gough said.

In response to the 24 votes against the budget proposal, Gough said, “The library vote is one of the few votes that people are not mandated to support. As such people have an opportunity to express their displeasure with government large and small. Many of the ‘no’ votes we get are a result of that frustration with mandated taxes.”

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

Gough called the voter turnout “average.”

“This is what happens,” she added. “It’s very quiet. There were no contested issues this year.”

The largest cost increases in the proposed budget 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 has a $10,850 decrease in spending on programs like lectures.

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.

Gough said the budget approval will not impact the library’s plans to go forward with a $500,000 facility repurposing project as well as a parking lot expansion.

Neither initiative was included in the budget because they will be funded by money held in capital reserve, Gough said.

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

Both efforts are “still in the early phases” and have yet “to get an architect involved,” Gough said.

“I’m very grateful that people came out and voted,” she said. “With that continued support we can go forward and do our best to serve everyone’s best interest.”

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