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.