As library officials regroup and figure out the next step in planning construction of an annex, the Board of Trustees grows worried a wary public will reject next year’s operating budget in retaliation against what it sees as a poorly planned project.
Library Director Amy Raff presented trustees June 19 with a proposed budget that would raise spending 4.43 percent, or $25,290, and increase the tax levy by 4.13 percent, or $22,071. Trustees wanted to keep spending in check, so on July 10, Raff came back with a budget that would increase spending by 3.34 percent, or $19,090, and raise the tax levy 3.01 percent or $15,871.
But, Trustee Elaine Hammond suggested bringing spending down even more amid a stormy climate of public mistrust. “I know you pared down to the bone,” Hammond told Raff, but bringing any increase down to 2 percent or less is important.
However not the trustees all agree with paring down the spending.
“A lower increase has a better chance of getting a ‘yes’ vote, but it might not be better for the library,” Trustee Geoffrey Hanowitz said. Trustee Jesse Jones said, given what the library has to offer, the taxes may be lower than what they should be.
Board President Stuart Auchincloss attempted to put things in perspective by noting that bringing the increase from three percent to two percent equates to about $5000.
Library officials, including Raff and bookkeeper Julie Parisi have attempted to put things in further perspective by pointing out the library tax is about 40 cents per $1000 assessed value, so the tax on a $200,000 home is about $80.
“Three books and I’ve got my money’s worth,” Parisi said. “You get back so much more than what you pay.”
Raff acknowledged there is a hostile environment among the library’s constituents.
“A veil of suspicion has been cast on things,” Raff said, adding that voters may feel that casting a ballot against the budget is a “way to speak out against the Joel Sanders annex design.”
The library has proposed building an annex on the space of the former Woodstock Laundromat across Library Lane. Initially, trustees proposed a building on the laundromat’s original footprint to cost $500,000. That plan evolved to a much larger building with a budget now approaching $1.6 million.
The annex design by Joel Sanders Architect includes a 2,050 square feet of space on an 1,800-square-foot footprint at the site of the former Woodstock Laundromat across Library Lane that includes a 65-seat meeting space that can be divided into smaller areas, a “maker-space” workshop, two unisex bathrooms, a small kitchen, storage room, front and rear decks and a roof deck.