Bridges defeats Miller for library seat; residents pass budget

Patricia Bridges defeated Susan Miller to win re-election to the Port Washington Public Library Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

Bridges received 496 votes and Miller received 239.

Residents also approved the library’s $7.52 million budget proposal, with 685 people voting yes and 85 voting no.

Bridges, who has served as a trustee for 10 years, has lived in Port Washington for 17 years.

“First of all, l am honored and proud to be the community’s library advocate,” Bridges said. “I am obviously very excited to continue to serve the community and continue to do good things with our library.”

Efforts to reach Miller were unavailing.

Bridges acknowledged the changing dynamics of the library with the focus shifting toward more digital content, saying with fewer physical books, the board faces a challenge in managing the space the books occupied.

“There will always be physical books, but we’re continuing to incorporate digital and alternative delivery to books and media. We have to be able to deliver books to our patrons in the forms they want.”

Although voter turnout was low, Bridges said it’s not indicative of the library’s success.

“Our success is measured by our patron support, by the programs we offer to our patrons and how well they are attended,” Bridges said. “Low voter turnout is a national issue, but I was able this year to get a lot of people to vote.”

Bridges credited her campaign style for her victory, saying she focused on being positive and informing residents of the good things the library has been doing.

“I told everyone about the good things we’ve been doing and the importance of my skill set to help the library,” she said.

The approved budget for 2017-18 calls for a $178,041 increase in spending with a 0.96 percent tax levy increase.

The budget’s spending increases are seen in salaries and employee benefits and building operations and cutbacks are in library operations and equipment and repairs.

The budget shows a $217,554 increase in the salaries, terminal leave and employee benefits section, with spending on salaries rising $180,542 and retired employee benefits jumping from $517,640 to $540,063.

The budget allocates $5,404,185 for salaries, terminal leave and employee benefits.

The library required additional information technology employees, Nancy Curtin, the library director, said.

There was no change in total spending on library materials, with the budget allocating $430,000, but spending on physical books was cut back while audio and electronic book spending increased.

The cut in spending for physical books is the first since 2014, when spending on nonfiction books saw a $5,000 decrease.

Curtin said the library has seen an increase in electronic material, while the circulation of physical books has gone down.

“We’re adapting to what we see,” Curtin said last month. “There are still people who love to bring a book to the beach, but we’re still adapting to the younger generation.”

The budget calls for operations spending to be cut around $10,000.

The budget also calls for a $14,500 increase in equipment costs and a $25,000 increase in repairs and alterations for a total of $156,350 in spending in the equipment, repairs and transfers section.

Those increases are due to ongoing renovations of the Children’s Library, Curtin said.

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Stephen Romano

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