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Mamaroneck Library Budget Approved By Board, Awaiting Community's Votes

The Mamaroneck Library Board met on Wednesday night to discuss the 2012-13 proposed budget. The community will have an opportunity to vote on the budget on Dec. 14.

This year’s budget for the will factor in, among other things, rising costs for state-mandated retirement benefits and one-time fees incurred in moving from the library’s old location to the new one on Prospect Avenue. 

The —which was financed through a combination of a $13 million 25-year bond and $6.5 million in private funds—was completed over the summer, giving the Mamaroneck community access to a state-of-the-art 31,300 square foot facility many times larger then the cramped quarters at the temporary location. Since its opening, the new library has attracted 1,000 new users, said Library Board Vice-President Carolyn Pomeranz.

At a little over $2.7 million, the 2012-13 budget is a 6 percent increase over the previous year’s $2.6 million.  Broken down, this includes an almost 3 percent increase in total operating expenses from $1.7 to $1.8 million and a 12 percent increase in debt service, or debt repayment, from $800,000 to $895,731 this year after the board “underforecasted bond payments” for the previous budget.

Last year's budget was about a 2 percent increase over the 2009-10 budget, and can be viewed here on the Mamaroneck Library's website.

The cost to taxpayers will be approximately $75 per year for an average assessed home of $15,000, an 18.26 percent increase in the tax levy.

In drawing up the budget, the library board faced the same dilemma echoed by municipal and local governments and heard in many local election campaigns: How to maintain the same level of service to the community in challenging economic times without passing on excessive costs to the taxpayer.

This balancing act wasn’t easy.

“We are currently operating with a bare bones staff,” said Pomeranz, who added that, whenever possible, the library utilizes volunteer staff to supplement their full-time employees.  The number of full-time staffers is currently less than in 2008, she said.

Other efforts to offset the tax burden include charging fees for meeting rooms at the library, seeking out grants and active fundraising by the board.

Some of the more significant increases included $30,000 for state-mandated retirement costs, $30,000 for fuel and utilities in a larger building and $59,000 to restore salary and payroll taxes for one staff position. Money allotted for salaries and debt repayment comprise 75 percent of the total budget.  Offsetting these increases was an $18,000 savings by restructuring the employee health insurance plan as well as a $30,000 decrease in the amount budgeted for certain items like books on DVD, periodicals and MP3s.

“Libraries are changing,” said Board Treasurer Steve Warner, referring to the availability of many formerly print-only materials online.

Additionally, the library will also be reducing its reserves from $435,000 in the 2011-12 budget to $200,000. 

“Excluding debt service increases and retirement costs, the budget would increase less than 1 percent,” said Warner, continuing, “which is what I would hope we could manage the budget at going forward."

The library budget has been separate from the Village of Mamaroneck's budget since 1992. 

The budget will be voted on by the public on Dec. 14, however, if it does not pass, the board will have to revert to the 2011-12 tax levy. This could result in a potential $330,000 cut, which could include measures such as a 25 percent staff cut, a reduction in the library’s hours, and library programs being discontinued.

“After this, we will be very mindful of increases going forward,” said Warner.

The community will be able to vote on the Mamaroneck Library budget on Dec. 14 from 7 a.m.-9 p.m.  A copy of the 2012-13 budget will be available on the library's website this week.

J.D. Oriani November 18, 2011 at 01:40 PM
As Mamaroneck home owners and parents of young children, my wife and I feel both the tax burden and the tremendous benefits of our community's amazing new facilities. I highly encourage every tax payer to visit OUR new library, explore the children's library (even if you don't have young children), and browse the library's online collections. In a growing world of digital media, we enjoy FREE audiobooks ($180/yr min + the cost of books on Audible.com), FREE Kindle and other format eBooks ($10-$20 ea on Amazon.com), and amazing research capabilities. Our library offers a GREAT value for the tax dollars that we invest. Please show your support for this amazing community resource on Dec 14th! Until then ... go check-out our investment with a visit and an online surfing session. HAPPY READING (listening, watching, etc., etc.)!!!
Buddy November 18, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Agreed. Support for instituions like our local library should be viewed as a direct investment in ourselves and the wellbeing of the Mamaroneck community. The new library is fantastic. I hope that everyone has a chance to visit.
tom murphy November 18, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The Library is the brain of the community. It offers hope and help for those seeking to better themselves. I hope voters come out and help nuture our communities "brain". Is the library subject to the 60% voter approval of that ridiculous tax cap?
BG7 November 18, 2011 at 02:34 PM
My wife goes every week to the library with our young son - he picks up a pile of books and we have a different reading book for him every night. Its an excellent resource, and a beautifully operating modern building. I support it wholeheartedly, and to the extent it can offer a lifetime love of reading, I wish everyone would take their youngsters there!
Victor Mason November 18, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Thanks for such a concise, well-written discussion of the new library's offerings and analysis of the issues voters must consider next month.
BG7 November 18, 2011 at 02:37 PM
BTW - where do we vote?
tom murphy November 18, 2011 at 02:55 PM
You vote at the Library. Bring a friend!
BG7 November 18, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Tom - thanks. I will!
Chief Siwanoy November 18, 2011 at 03:26 PM
"Is the library subject to the 60% voter approval of that ridiculous tax cap?" Unfortunately, yes. This is another mindless restraint on majority rule: "The following entities are covered by the cap: *************************** Special Districts (including, but not limited to sewer, water, library and fire protection districts). In the case of special districts the tax cap applies as follows: The tax levy of a special district (such as a water or sewer district) that (i) has a separate independent elected board, and (ii) has the authority to levy a tax, or can require a municipality to levy a tax on its behalf, is subject to the tax levy limit. o To the extent the budget of a special district, such as a library district, is comprised of revenues generated by its own taxing authority, ...... those tax revenues fall within the tax levy limit of the special district..... A special district that raises revenue solely through fees based on use is not subject to the tax levy limit. Publication 1000 (9-11) Published by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the New York State Department of State [FN omitted]

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