Despite a small increase in the Saugerties tax rate (from 29.78 to 29.98 cents per $1,000 of assessed value), voters on Sept. 3 will not see an increase in the amount of taxes they’re asked to contribute to the 2016 Saugerties Public Library budget. In fact, the library is asking for exactly the same amount in taxpayer support that it has for each of the previous three years: $521,964. For a homeowner with a residence appraised at $250,000, that works out to approximately $75 per year.
The tax rate is increasing because the total assessed value of Saugerties real estate went down.
The proposed $586,507 budget exceeds the current operating budget by $6,710. The library will make up the difference by applying $34,043 from its fund reserve; $9,312 more than it applied from the fund balance last year to balance the books.
But the library still has a healthy remaining fund balance of $441,234, with a board-approved spending plan that will allow for replacing items like computers and carpeting as well as facilities upkeep and technology.
“We have a bit of a surplus that we’ve built up,” said Library Director Frank Rees.
The fund balance was also used recently, he said, to acquire properties on Division St. in order to provide 8,000 square feet of outdoor programming space and 13 new parking spaces to better serve the community.
The Saugerties Public Library Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2016 budget at the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at the library, 91 Washington Ave. The budget vote and election of three trustees will be held at the library on Thursday, Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All registered voters living in the Saugerties Public Library District — renters, too, not just property owners — are eligible to vote. Absentee ballots will be available after Aug. 18.
Salary expenses for 2016 are budgeted to increase by two percent, from $275,430 to $280,939. The cost of benefits for those employees, however, will be lowered by nine percent, from $90,239 in 2015 to $82,313. The reason for that, said Rees, is a reduction in what the library has to pay in New York State retirement contributions due to fewer full-time staff members. The Saugerties Library currently has four full-time employees — three of them with master’s degrees in library science — and 12 part-time employees.
The cost of the budget vote and elections remains at $775.
Books, CDs, DVDs, e-books; a flat $65,000.
Programming costs, along with those for art and exhibits at the library, are budgeted to increase from $10,775 to $12,700, nearly 20 percent. “We have a substantial collection of in-house art,” Rees said. “Most of the increase is going toward getting an assessment of those materials and producing a self-guided tour brochure with pictures and provenance of all the paintings.”
Building operation costs for utilities, insurance, maintenance, lawn and grounds, snow removal, geothermal, equipment and custodial services are up $4,220 over last year’s figures, from $88,550 to $92,770.
And the mandatory fees to the Mid-Hudson Library System are going up 12 percent, from $14,978 this year to $16,798 in 2016. “It’s based on population and circulation,” said Rees. “Mostly on circulation; they take a look at the past three years of circulation and make an assessment for member libraries based on that. But if you boil it down, that’s probably the most important piece of the budget, because that funds the delivery system so you can order a book from any library in the system.”
Professional services (accounting, legal, IT consulting and staff development) are budgeted basically the same as in 2015, at just $122 more.
The number of active card-carrying patrons at the Saugerties Public Library is 9,671, some 49.5 percent of all Saugertiesians. New library cards are issued at an average of 40 per month. There have been 51,841 people through the library doors so far this year, consistent with last year’s total of 97,346 people by year’s end. Visits to the website are on par with last year, as well, with 25,226 visits so far in 2015.
When it comes to programs, more than 11,800 individuals attended 846 library programs in 2014, and this year looks to continue that trend with more than 6,710 attending 391 library programs so far in 2015. “I feel fortunate as the director here,” said Rees, “because we have tremendous community support in everything that we try to do.”
Computer usage also remains strong, with 21,129 people logging in to the library’s computers in 2014 and more than 10,000 so far in 2015.
More information is available at the library, where copies of the proposed budget may be obtained, or on www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org, where a budget summary is posted. Concerns may be raised at the public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. or residents may contact Library Director Frank Rees at 246-4317.