Voters on Sept. 4 will not see an increase in the amount of taxes they’re asked to contribute to the 2015 library operating budget, even though the tax rate is increasing slightly, from 29.44 to 29.78 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The tax rate is increasing because the total assessed value of Saugerties real estate went down.
The library budget calls for exactly the same amount in taxpayer support as in 2014 (and 2013, for that matter): $521,964. That amounts to about $60 for a home assessed at $200,000.
And while the proposed $579,797 budget comes in higher than the current operating budget by $16,672, the library will balance the books without going to the taxpayers by applying that much more from their appropriated fund reserves. The 2014 budget applied $9,761 from the reserves to keep things balanced; the 2015 budget will add an additional $16,672 for a total of $26,433 applied from the fund reserve.
“We didn’t feel comfortable going to the taxpayers for an increase when we’re sitting on some reserve funds,” said Library Director Frank Rees.
The cost of the budget vote and elections remains $775.
Salary expenses increase from $270,000 to $275,430 ( two percent) with employee benefits adding an additional $2,864.
Books, CDs, DVDs, e-books; a flat $65,000.
Programming increases $9,275 to $10,775, or 16 percent. “We’re looking to beef up what we do for art exhibits and bring some more artists in,” Rees said. “We also have a substantial collection of in-house art that we’re in the process of documenting and creating a self-guided tour brochure for. Some of the increase is going toward that, and maybe investigating different lighting or hanging systems.” The library would also like to increase the number of other programs, he added.
Building operation costs, for utilities, insurance, maintenance, lawn and grounds, snow removal, geothermal, equipment and custodial services, remain basically the same, $200 less than last year.
Other costs are decreasing significantly. Mandatory fees to the Mid-Hudson Library System have been lowered by $3,022, from $18,000 to $14,978, or 17 percent. “There are 66 member libraries in the Mid-Hudson System, and their board really wants to try to keep the costs down for the member libraries,” Rees explained. “They’ve been really good about that, knowing the more we have to pay them the less we have to offer programming on the local level.”
Professional services (accounting, legal, IT consulting and staff development) decrease from $24,980 to $22,630, or nine percent. “In the past we’ve had some significant legal fees, but we don’t see anything like that on the horizon at this time,” said Rees.
The number of active card-carrying patrons at the Saugerties Public Library now approaches 10,000, or 51 percent of all Saugertiesians. Library cards are issued at an average of 49 per month. Nearly 50,000 people have been logged in at the doors so far this year (there were over 100,000 total in 2013) and the website has had more than 26,000 visits so far in 2014 (57,000 last year). A total of 11,500 people attended 850 library programs in 2013, and 2014 is on track for the same, with more than 6,000 people so far participating in 432 programs this year.
Public hearing and more info
The Library Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2015 budget at the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. at the library, 91 Washington Ave. The budget vote and election of two trustees will be held at the library on Thursday, Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All registered voters in the town of Saugerties are eligible to vote. Absentee ballots will be available after Aug. 19. For more information, call the library at (845) 246-4317. A budget summary is available at www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org. The complete budget is available at the library.