By Maylan L. Studart
The Great Neck Library Board of Trustees held its first budget workshop Tuesday, proposing a $9.65 million budget for fiscal 2020.
The budget proposal, which is subject to further public meetings and a board vote, is essentially flat compared to the current year’s budget, declining by about $4,000. When passed, the budget would be effective from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
Changes in the new budget include increased interest income, higher rent expenses, a $202,600 increase in salaries and a decrease in library materials and programs.
Interest income is expected to grow by $26,000 due to a higher money market rate the library system obtained from HSBC Bank.
“This year we were able to get a higher rate through HSBC,” said Great Neck Library Business Manager Steve Kashkin. “They have since increased in again to closer to 1 percent, so we’re going to get revenue from our interest, from the money that we have in our money market accounts.”
Kashkin said Chase Bank, another bank where the library parks money, has not been helpful in increasing interest rates for the library system. Hence, he said, he may propose to move library money to other banks who would give more advantageous terms in the future.
Total building and occupancy expenses increased by over $20,000 mostly due to higher gas expenses and a 3 to 4 percent annual increase in rental costs for the library’s systems three locations.
Total salary expenses are expected to rise by over $200,000 to $4.4 million due to an increase in open positions.
Kashkin said new full-time positions added to the 2020 budget proposal are a new webmaster marketing designer, a librarian at the Station location and a head clerk for circulation.
Part-time positions added are a new STEM librarian for reference and a librarian for the Station location.
Total employee benefits expenses decreased slightly by $45,146 to $2.1 million due to salaried positions being filled late or unfilled in the prior year’s budget and lower health insurance costs, Kashkin said.
Marietta DiCamillo, former Great Neck Library trustee, treasurer and board president attended the meeting as part of the public and had several concerns regarding budgeted salaries and unfilled positions.
She asked why there was a budget increase of over $200,000 in salaries for positions that were unfilled the prior year. She said it is a library policy that if a position goes unfilled for over one year, it means the position is not necessary for operations.
DiCamillo, who is accustomed to creating budgets, noted there is more than $500,000 left in the current budget that ends June 30, yet the 2020 budget proposes an additional $202,600.
“On your salary line, I’m estimating about half a million in unspent moneys in the line item,” said DiCamillo.
“Through February, it’s about $270,000 overall,” said Kashkin.
“If you take it and aggregate it over the full year, it comes out to about half a million dollars.”
“Right,” he said.
DiCamillo said she was concerned that unnecessary library positions might be budgeted for 2020 when there is enough money that will roll over from the prior year’s budget.
“We can look at that and make adjustments,” said Great Neck Library Director Denise Corcoran.
Library materials and programs expenses are somewhat flat year-over-year, declining by $9,700 to $1.04 million.
A board member and a member of the public were concerned about the lack of spending in materials and expenses, but Kashkin said the apparent disparity in the budget document which shows a flat total amount, is due to money being moved around for specific items. The expenses decline was offset by an expansion of books funding by $23,000, newspapers by $10,000 and children’s programming increased by $19,000 due to more STEM-related programs.
Administrative expenses declined by nearly $7,000 to $393,000, with the biggest decline coming from a nearly 40 percent savings in telephone services expenses.
Furniture and equipment expenses declined by nearly 40 percent to $25,600 and debt services was mostly flat at $746,241.
Separate from the budget, the Great Neck Library has $1.1 million surplus in capital funds from 2018 that could be allocated in the future.
Tax increases were discussed, but the board said it did not seem necessary to do so.
“We are not asking for an increase in taxes,” said Trustee Josie Pizer. “If there is an increase, it will go to the public for a vote.”
The next meeting of the library board will be March 20 at 7 p.m.