By Kathryn G. Menu
The John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) Board of Trustees will present voters in the Sag Harbor School District with a proposed $2,288,445 million budget on Tuesday, September 24.
That budget includes $905,000 in debt service for the library’s restoration and expansion project at its Main Street building, as well as $1,383,445 for operating expenses.
The budget represents a 2.8 percent increase in the tax assessment appropriated on the library’s behalf by the school district, meaning it will exceed the state’s mandated two-percent tax cap. In July, the library board of trustees voted to override the tax cap to allow itself to move forward with the option of exceeding the tax cap.
This will be the first time since the state imposed the tax cap that the library will seek to override it.
According to JJML Director Catherine Creedon, the library has yet to receive figures from the state that would allow them to understand how much they could increase their levy ? the amount of money they seek from the voters ? in order to stay under the tax cap, but she does believe the budget will likely exceed that number.
“The cap is designed for entities with a school district fiscal year,” said Creedon. “For those working with a calendar fiscal year, the legislation is problematic because the figures are not released in time for us to fully comply even if we wanted to.”
“This particular budget was a real challenge,” added Creedon. “I kept it to an absolute minimum, but we are faced with non-negotiable increases like health insurance.”
All benefits — including health insurance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, retirement and workman’s comp — will increase in the 2014 budget to $179,360, up from $155,950.
While last year the library froze salaries in an effort to comply with the tax cap, Creedon said this year she felt it was fair to offer employees a 2.2 percent increase in pay.
“This year given the high level of service they are providing in our temporary space, I felt it was important to include that in the budget,” she said.
Wage and salary expenses for the whole of the library, including the director’s position, librarians, custodial services, bookkeeping, technical services and for the library’s administrative assistant are raised to a total of $693,163 for 2014, up from $674,000 in 2013.
The book budget, said Creedon, has also increased.
“Our circulation, especially in our children’s department, is increasing and in order to provide services it is important we keep pace with what are statistics are showing us we need,” she said.
The total book budget has increased from $39,500 in 2013 to $42,500 in 2014. Creedon has reduced the video budget from $6,500 in 2013 to $4,500 for 2014, as well as compact disc purchases which are budgeted for $1,100 in 2014, compared to $1,300 in 2013.
“The percentage increase in our budget is one thing, but it is important to also remember JJML has a relatively small budget,” added Creedon, noting the overall increase the library is seeking is around $60,000.
Creedon said the library has also committed to raising $69,080 in private funding outside of the capital campaign to support operating expenses at the library.
“I made that commitment to raise those additional funds for the operating budget, which is more than we are asking the taxpayers for in terms of an increase,” she said.
On September 24, voters will also have to elect three members to the JJML Board of Trustees.
Board president Carl Peterson reaches his term limit in December, serving on the board for almost eight years — two years as an appointed member of the board, and elected for two consecutive three-year terms. Board member Carol Williams will also reach her term limit, meaning neither incumbent are able to seek office. Board member Linley Whalen, a former president of the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library, will seek a second term, said Creedon.
“It will be a monumental sea change for the library,” said Creedon, noting petitions are available at the Sag Harbor School District Clerk’s office starting Thursday, August 1 for anyone interested in serving on the library board. “Both Carl and Carol have been intimately involved in this building project and over and above that ethical stewards of the library and its mission.”
Petitions are due back at the district clerk’s office by Friday, August 23.