After the Saugerties Public Library renovated its original Carnegie Library building and expanded in 2011, there was an upsurge of interest in joining the Board of Trustees. Seven candidates ran for three available seats in 2012, and six candidates ran for just two positions in 2013. Interest in joining the board these days has waned, however, with the number of candidates running in 2014 equal to the number of seats. This year — with the library celebrating its 100th anniversary on Sept. 14 — there is only one candidate, incumbent Ken Goldberg, on the Sept. 3 ballot for three open seats.
Trustee Mary Leahy has reached her term limit after ten years on the board and cannot run again, and trustee Rebecca Mignano-Campbell has chosen not to run again.
The ballot will offer the opportunity for write-in votes to fill the seats.
The Saugerties Public Library Board of Trustees currently has 12 members on its roster: Elizabeth Hernandez, Kenneth Goldberg, Irene Hurst, Cynthia Saporito, Vernon Benjamin, Rebecca Mignano-Campbell, Bernard Carroll, Brian Collins, Ted Conathan, Kenneth Goldberg, Mary Leahy and Myrna Sameth.
The board meets once a month, and each member belongs to several committees devoted to specific efforts. Trustees assist in determining the priorities for the library and work in consultation with the library’s director on policy and personnel decisions, management of fundraising efforts and budget development.
If there are no write-in votes, the board has two options, says Goldberg, current board vice-president and former treasurer. “The board could fill those two seats by appointment for one year, until the next election takes place, and then those seats — in addition to those of anyone whose term is ending — would all be on the ballot. Or the board could decide to leave one or both of the seats vacant until the next election cycle.”
A trustee term normally runs for five years with a two-term limit.
When deciding to run again for his seat on the board, Goldberg says it came down to several things. “First I want to make sure that the services and the programs that we’re offering continue to be offered as well as possible to library patrons. That means all the activities that take place along with everything that is made available to anybody that has a Saugerties Library card: books, e-books, e-readers, DVDs, audio. And I would like to continue to improve the offerings with new things that we discover or that patrons would like to have available.”
Another factor in Goldberg’s decision was his desire to help keep taxes level as long as possible. “Because I pay my taxes, as well, as everybody on the board does. We have been able to keep a balanced budget with no increase [for taxpayers] for the past three years and I would like to continue to keep it as low as possible. That’s been a high priority for me, and we’ve been successful so far.”
Overall, Goldberg says, “I think we have to continue to do really well with the things that we’re doing. We have to be very open and aware of new things that other libraries are starting to do that we can do to provide even more and better service, and I want to keep a good eye on the financial side.”
Goldberg is a retired faculty member of New York University, where he was chair of the mathematics department. He’s lived in Saugerties since 1979 with his wife, who is a native of the town.
The ballot will also ask voters to approve a proposed 2016 operating budget of $586,507 that allows for a contribution of $521,964 in taxpayer support with a tax rate of $0.2998 per $1,000 assessed value. For a homeowner with a residence appraised at $250,000, that works out to approximately $75 per year.
All registered voters living in the Saugerties Public Library District are eligible to vote on Thursday, Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots will be available after Aug. 18. More information is available on the library website at www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org or by calling (845) 246-4317.