Woodstock voters approved the Woodstock Library District budget by a 4-1 margin on September 1 as nearly 500 citizens turned out, and, for the second year in a row, effected significant turnover on the board of trustees.
Rebecca Daniels, Tamara Katzowitz and Elizabeth Rosen ousted current trustees George Finsrud and John Ludwig, while David Lewis was elected to his first full term and incumbent Barry Miller was re-elected. Board of trustees president Doris Goldberg did not seek re-election. The president, vice president and other officers will be chosen at the board’s January organizational meeting.
Finsrud and Ludwig were part of a slate promoted by the Committee to Build a Better Library that also included Lewis, retired architectural engineer Joseph Mangan and former town Councilman Ken Panza. Despite a considerable email, advertising and postal mail campaign, Lewis was the only one of the candidates endorsed by the Panza-backed committee to win.
During the campaign, Lewis said he did not seek the group’s endorsement and was running his own bid for election.
Rebecca Daniels topped the vote total with 370.
“I’m very happy with the results,” said Daniels. “And I’m delighted at the turnout,” she said of the large turnout, which represents an increase of about 25 percent over previous years. “I love the fact the budget passed 4-1. I consider that a vote of confidence.”
Daniels said she was surprised at how much she enjoyed the election process and is encouraged by the amount of support she has received from the community, both for her election and for the library in general.
Daniels also wanted to remind people to come to the forum being held at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will feature ADG Cohn Architects, the firm hired to update the library’s Master Plan. ADG Cohn will present its findings based on a series of visual scans of the library campus and will also seek more public input.
Daniels is retired and the former owner of Writers’ Support Service. She has three children and five grandchildren. Daniels moved to Woodstock in 1974 from Manhattan.
Elizabeth Rosen (314 votes) will serve her first term on the board, but is intimately familiar with a library’s operations. “I’m so happy the budget passed by such a good margin,” Rosen said, adding she is looking forward to working with the board. She also hopes to “abate some of the divisiveness that’s been going on.”
Rosen is a retired CFO of the Morgan Library in Manhattan, where she oversaw 130 employees and $2 million in combined budgets. She has lived in Woodstock for 16 years.
She is president of Staying in Place, a peer self help group for seniors who wish to remain in the community.
David Lewis (296 votes) had been appointed to fill a vacant seat but has now been elected for a full term. “I am grateful to the electorate for choosing me to serve on the library board,” Lewis said. “I am going to continue working on the master plan with the rest of the board. I will also work towards getting a maker space established at the library, which could offer coding, engineering, and robotics workshops.” Lewis is a high school science teacher and is married with four children. He grew up in New York City, and moved to Woodstock in 1998, then moved away to join the peace corps. Lewis said he joined the board to represent people of his generation, who have not had a voice on the board for a long time.
Tamara Katzowitz (270 votes) is a retired educator and adjunct professor. She has a Master’s in Library Science from SUNY Albany. She is a volunteer for the annual Library Fair.
“I love my community,” Katzowitz said. “I want to help my community as much as possible.”
Katzowitz said she did not wish to comment any further until she had the opportunity to meet the board and get up to speed on the issues.
Barry Miller (267 votes), who has served on the board for 15 years, said he was pleased with the election results. “We will have a very workable board. We have some experienced people who have worked in libraries before,” Miller said. “They’re easy to work with. They like to roll up their sleeves and their smart.”
Incumbent John Ludwig lost his bid for re-election with 176 votes, followed by Ken Panza (172 votes), Joseph Mangan (163 votes) and George Finsrud (148 votes).
The $599,616 spending plan passed 401-97, nearly a 4-1 margin. The budget raises the tax levy $16,378, or 3 percent, from $549,188 to $565,566, which is above the state tax cap of 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. That cap can be exceeded with a three-fifths vote of the board.
Director Janet Dymond has pointed out the increase is easier to swallow when put into perspective. For a home valued at $300,000, it is $3.67, or 31 cents per month.
Built into the budget is about $6000 for a comprehensive audit, which hasn’t been done since 2010. It may not be something tangible to the patrons, but is a transparency issue, Dymond said recently. Also, the Mid-Hudson Library System, of which the Woodstock Library is a member, may soon start requiring yearly audits.
Also included in the budget is money for newer books and more materials for programs, something patrons have requested in recent surveys.
The staff will get a 2 percent raise, but that is offset in other areas, such as asking employees to contribute more to their health insurance costs.