Taxes flat in library budget

library HZTExpanded hours, new books, new computers, audiobook players and e-readers; the Saugerties Library has its share of costs, but voters on Sept. 5 won’t see a tax increase in the proposed 2014 budget.

The $563,434 budget calls for $521,964 in taxes—the same as 2013—at a rate of 29.44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s about $60 for a home assessed at $200,000.

Treasurer Ken Goldberg said expenses have come in under budget since moving to the new building Jan. 2011. As a result, the board has built up a substantial fund balance of about $400,000. The balance was kept on the high side because trustees were uncertain what the costs would be in the new building, which is nearly three times the size of the old. Now they know, and after the board hires a new library director (Sukrit Goswami resigned in June), its next job will be figuring out how to draw the reserves down to about half that amount.

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Having a better handle on actual spending means the board was able to reduce planned expenditures in other places. In addition, salaries fell $36,000, from $306,000 to $270,000, because several employees left and their positions will be filled with replacements starting at a lower rate. Still, other costs increased. Goldberg said the board applied around $10,000 from the fund balance to keep the tax levy identical to last year.

Though it will spend less on salaries, that doesn’t mean the library is cutting back on staff or services. “Far from it,” said Goldberg. “If anything, we’re increasing our services. We’re not cutting any programs and we’re not cutting people’s salaries, either.”

Those who inspect the budget might wonder why the amount to be raised from taxes remains the same even though the tax rate has increased from 27.6 cents per $1,000 assessed value to 29.44 cents per $1,000. “The tax rate per thousand depends on the total tax base for Saugerties, which has gone down a little bit,” said Goldberg. “The Library Board has no control over the tax base, but we do have control over the total taxes we ask for, and we’re keeping that flat.”

Copies of the proposed budget are available at the library. A public hearing will be held Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. The budget vote will be held at the library on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Absentee ballots will be available after Tuesday, Aug. 20. For more information, call the library at 246-4317.

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