Library budget & trustee vote tomorrow

Photo by Dion Ogust

The budget numbers have been crunched. Trustee candidates have made their pitch. The only thing that’s left is the budget vote itself: Thursday, September 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the library’s community room. The vote is open to all residents of the town and village of Saugerties.

The proposed 2013 budget is $599,434, a 2.4 percent increase over the current budget. The amount to be raised by taxes is $521,963.75, a 1.5 percent increase. If the budget is approved, property owners will pay 27.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of .41 cents per $1,000. (This is separate from ongoing payments for the 2009 bond that funded the $7 million addition/renovation, which adds about the same amount each year to the tax bill.)

The largest expense for the library after salaries ($306,006) is operating expenses, which are projected to increase from $62,754 in the current budget to $91,513 in 2013. Under the umbrella of operating costs are utilities, telephone, insurance, maintenance, service/supplies, lawn and grounds, snow removal, elevator maintenance contract, geothermal system maintenance contract, custodial services and equipment depreciation.

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Past elections have seen a dearth of trustee candidates. Often, the races have not been contested. This year is different, though, with seven candidates running for three seats. It’s not clear why so many threw their hats in the ring this year. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the new building has generated more enthusiasm and interest throughout the community, and that has naturally led to more candidates.

Here’s a bit about each one:

• Elizabeth Hernandez is the lone incumbent. She’s currently the board’s secretary as well as chair of the personnel committee and a member of the policy and finance committees. On the board for five years, Hernandez was its president when the renovation of the library was voted in, and she worked on the design committee during the extensive expansion process.

• Cynthia Saporito is senior vice president and C.O.O. at Sawyer Savings Bank. She has a degree in accounting, and is a past president and board member of the Saugerties Boys & Girls Club. Raised in Rosendale, she’s lived in Saugerties for over 25 years, since she began working for Sawyer Savings Bank.

• Greg Sillins is currently a stay-at-home dad with his daughter, age 13. His wife works for Alcoa in Kingston. Seeking the best educational opportunities for their daughter, the family moved from the Wappingers area to Saugerties in 2001 after hearing good things about the school district, says Sillins. He has a background in IT information systems software quality assurance, finance and budgeting.

• Jennifer Kavanagh is a stay-at-home mom with two young daughters, ages 2 and 3. She grew up in Dutchess County, but has been a resident of the Saugerties/Kingston area for about 12 years, and along with her husband has been a homeowner in Saugerties for the last five. She has a master’s degree in business, and although without any previous experience on a board, Kavanagh has a background in sales and marketing as well as real estate, and feels that she has skills and a valuable youthful perspective to offer the board.

• Rita Ford is a business manager at Ducommun AeroStructures Inc. in Coxsackie. Originally from New Jersey, she’s lived in Saugerties for seven years with husband Robert Ford, a reporter for this newspaper. Ford has a bachelor’s degree in business management and was co-president of the United Methodist Women at Saugerties Methodist Church for two years. While Ford has no previous board experience, she’s volunteered her bookkeeping and managerial skills at several nonprofits in the area, including Miriam’s Well in Saugerties and the Archipenko Foundation in Bearsville. Ford was a volunteer Big Sister with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization of Ulster County (“until they closed our doors, due to lack of funding,” she says), and is currently a volunteer for the Ulster County Red Cross.

• Cecelia Karashay is a program technician for the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency. Born in Saugerties, she’s lived here for most of her life. Karashay is currently on the board of Stages in the Arts Youth Theater (formerly known as Woodstock Youth Theater), and has served as president on the board of an employees’ association for her work. She enjoys visiting the library for story time with her grand-niece, and says that the new library building is “gorgeous.”

• Irene Hurst says she can be described as a “retired volunteer,” but she is anything-but-retiring. While Saugerties was meant to be the place she and husband Howard retired to after his 32-year military career, she’s as active in the community here as she’s been in all the other places they’ve lived, a roster that includes Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Virginia, Indiana, and Long Island, where she and her husband were both brought up. Their last residence before moving to Saugerties four and a half years ago was the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, where Howard served his last duty assignment. The couple have four children. Irene Hurst is a member of the Friends of the Saugerties Public Library, and handles publicity for the League of Women Voters. She volunteers once a week at Happy Paws, the thrift shop for the SPCA. She’s on the curriculum committee for the Lifespring Adult Learning Community in Saugerties, where she also teaches literature courses. Her goal with classes like “What’s So Great About Gatsby” and “Shakespeare Without the Shakes” is to remove the intimidation factor from great literature, to show students how accessible it really is. Irene facilitates a book club once a week at the library (not advertised because they’re at capacity) and this fall she will moderate a six-week authors’ forum with writers of various genres exploring the Hudson Valley experience, particularly from the woman’s point of view.

 Sharyn Flanagan contributed to this article

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