No Woodstock Library tax increase

Woodstock Library trustees delivered on their plans to present a 2020 spending plan with no tax increase, mostly through the application of surplus funds and adjusting items that have come in under budget in the current fiscal year.

Trustee and Fiscal Officer Liz Rosen presented a $644,846.12 budget June 27 representing a spending increase of $3102.12, or 0.48 percent over the current $641,744 budget.

But the tax levy will remain the same at $585,544. The rest of the income is derived from contributions from the Friends of the Library and other donations, grants, state aid and fees for some services such as copies.

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The 2020 spending plan continues to fund the $15 minimum wage for clerks and the Monday hours, which have been a success.

Trustees voted to transfer $20,000 from surplus to a Personnel Benefits Fund. This fund is for unanticipated health insurance increases and to pay compensated absences, such as unused vacation and sick time when someone ends their employment. The new fund allowed the removal of $5,000 from the proposed budget, contributing to the zero levy increase.

The board also adopted a technology fund and moved $10,000 of surplus into it, though that didn’t affect the proposed budget either.

Also reduced were building contracts because the library has been under budget since changing cleaning services. The line for repairs was also reduced by $1000 because it has been under budget, Rosen explained.

Professional fees for legal and other expenses were reduced by $1000, contingency by $260 and retirement by $740. All are under budget in the current year.

“We feel we don’t need an increase this year, but we’re not going to make a habit out of it,” board president Dorothea Marcus said. “None of the money we’re taking from the budget will take away from the quality of service.”

Trustees thought a zero tax increase was the right thing to do because the library has excess funds and it is about to launch a capital campaign for a new 12,000-square-foot library with an estimated $5 million price tag.

“The surpluses were not because of poor financial planning,” Marcus said. The funds became available because of unforeseen circumstances such as staff departures.

The board expects to adopt the budget at its July 18 meeting at 7 p.m. in the library.

Voters will decide on the budget and elect trustees on October 3. The budget vote and trustee election was traditionally held the first Thursday in September. Trustees had assumed the September date was made permanent by the legislation that formed the library district in 1989, but discovered that was only required for the first year.

Responding to calls for a less complicated election season, the board recently investigated moving the vote to Election Day in November, but discovered it would require special legislation and could result in significant legal expenses. 

The first Thursday in October was set as a compromise and an experiment to see if moving it a month later will result in better turnout since most voters are back from summer vacations.

The board adopted a policy to set the date at its organizational meeting every January.

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