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Aug 4, 2010 12:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays library budget calls for nearly 6 percent increase in taxes

Aug 4, 2010 12:44 PM

Hampton Bays residents will be heading to the polls on Tuesday, August 10, to vote on their library’s proposed $1.89 million operating budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

If approved, the plan will increase overall spending by 4.87 percent, and library taxes by an estimated 5.97 percent, according to figures provided by library officials.

Residents can vote at the Ponquogue Avenue library between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. this Tuesday, in the Helen Gould Room. In order to vote, taxpayers must be registered with the Hampton Bays School District.

If the budget is approved, the library tax rate will increase from almost 41 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to just over 43 cents per $1,000, according to Hampton Bays Library 
Director Mike Firestone. Therefore, a resident whose home is assessed at $350,000 can expect to pay almost $151 in library taxes next year, or $8.50 more than this year.

According to a copy of the proposed budget, overall spending will increase by more than $84,000 to just over $1.89 million next year. Most of that jump can be attributed to a $54,000 
bump in the budget line for
employee salaries and benefits. The plan allocates almost
$1.09 million for salaries and benefits next year, up nearly 5.3 percent from $1.03 million set aside this year.

Mr. Firestone explained that the extra money is needed to cover 2-percent salary increases for the library’s nearly 50 employees. He said he also hopes to hire new clerks and another librarian.

The proposed budget also sets aside $195,000 so library officials can continue making payments on a bond, approved by voters in 1999, that financed renovations to the facility. The bond will not be paid off until 2019, according to Mr. Firestone.

The amount budgeted for library materials and programs will increase by $19,750, to $242,000 next year. Mr. Firestone said the extra money is needed for materials that are in “high demand” during the ongoing economic recession. A copy of the proposed spending plan also notes that 18,300 people utilized the library’s programs in 2009, a 14 percent increase over the prior year, and the use of computers at the library jumped by 12 percent.

“Our library is busier than ever before,” Mr. Firestone said. “Historically speaking, when the economy slows, libraries get busier. We’re trying to meet the needs of the public.”

The building and grounds operations line of the 2001 budget will increase by $7,000 to an even $212,000 next year. That money covers library maintenance and general upkeep costs.

Mr. Firestone also pointed out that the library must pay $3,500 to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority next year, as part of a recent tax approved by Albany. The library, meanwhile, is scheduled to receive only $3,000 in state aid next year, he added.

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An $8.50 increase is worth it. We need libraries.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Aug 10, 10 9:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
As a Hampton Bays resident, I'm looking forward to voting YES -- HB Library is a great library, the staff members are polite and knowledgeable and the Library offers great programs to Community Members - of all ages. Mike-you're doing a great job; thank you!!
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Aug 10, 10 1:26 PM
I too am going to vote YES ! There are VERY FEW other public services that deliver the "Value for the tax dollar" that our Library does. Keep up the GREAT work.
By Muscoot (7), Hampton Bays on Aug 10, 10 6:10 PM