The Hampton Library’s annual budget was passed this Saturday with strong support from Bridgehampton and Sagaponack voters. Despite an increase in projected expenses, 90 residents supported the budget while 20 voted against it. In 2010, the library plans to spend $1,301,400, up by $99,000 from last years costs. Library president Gail Davenport attributed the expanded budget to increases in payroll and benefit expenses when the library moves back to its Main Street location in Bridgehampton after a temporary stay in a building up the road.
“The 2010 proposed budget reflects the library trustees’ efforts to plan the use of [the] increased space,” wrote Davenport in a letter to taxpayers, referencing the renovations and construction of an addition that is currently taking place at the library’s main building.
“The total tax for your household for a year would be about the cost of one monthly cable television bill,” noted Davenport in the letter. Last year, a homeowner whose house was assessed at $1,000,000 paid $140.61 to the library in their property taxes. In 2010, this tax would increase by $11.58 or “about the cost of a movie ticket,” wrote Davenport, to a total of $152.19.
Although a majority of the budget’s increases stemmed from staff costs, the library also had to account for decreases in operating revenues. Funds garnered from fines and fees dropped by $2,200 over the past year. Investment income similarly declined from $19,000 to just $15,000. Costs for materials and programs were raised by $1,800. Payroll and benefits ate the lions share of the increases and grew from $479,600 to $570,900.
“We will hire additional part-time staff,” said library director Susan LaVista. “We are also accounting for a pretty significant increase in health insurance for our full time staff.”
“The trustees recognize that the increase in the 2010 operating budget is larger than last year’s. Providing reduced library services in the small temporary space is not the same as offering expanded service in a much larger space,” noted Davenport. “We have made every effort to balance expanded needs with fiscal responsibility. We offer the 2010 budget as a realistic plan for maintaining the library as the vibrant cultural center of Bridgehampton and Sagaponack.”
LaVista noted more votes were cast by Bridgehampton residents this year than in the past, but slightly fewer votes were cast by Sagaponack residents. For Bridgehampton, 65 taxpayers supported the budget and 16 voted against; 25 Sagaponack voters were in favor of the budget and only four Sagaponack residents voted against.
“Clearly, the numbers were in strong support of the budget,” added LaVista.
Gail Davenport said that the library hopes to re-open the revamped space over the holidays. The building was originally slated to be available to the public in the spring or summer of 2010. The construction company, noted LaVista, has been working aggressively to push up the opening date. LaVista said the library might be able to open the doors to the new space by the Thanksgiving holiday. Operations in the renovated location will include new programs, lectures, demonstrations and movies. The children’s room will be expanded and the computer room has been updated. Wireless Internet will be provided in the building and the rear garden.
Library treasurer Lee Foster was also up for re-election this year. On Saturday, 29 voters turned up to support Foster, who was running unopposed.