John Jermain Memorial Library Candidate and Budget Forum on Wednesday

Posted on 16 September 2011

Next week, residents of the Sag Harbor Union Free School District will have the opportunity to weigh in on a proposed 2012 budget for the John Jermain Memorial library. They will also hear the thoughts of four candidates for three trustee seats on the library’s board of trustees — the first election contest for the library in several years.

On Wednesday, September 21 the library will host the forum at 5:15 p.m. in its temporary West Water Street, Sag Harbor home. The library board’s regular meeting will begin after the forum, around 6 p.m.

The library board will present voters in the school district with a 1,253,200 proposed budget for 2012, which the board approved this summer. It is one of the first budgets in the state to fall under the auspices of the mandatory two-percent tax cap. However the library board was able to override the cap with a unanimous vote by its board this summer and will present a budget to voters showing a 4.8 percent increase in spending. The library needs only a simple majority of voters for the budget to be formally adopted.

The proposed budget increase is due to several factors including the cost of operating a second, temporary home on West Water Street while the library’s Main Street building is renovated and expanded. According to the proposed budget, other factors include increases in the cost of staff, opening the library on Sundays year-round, double-digit increases in health care costs, as well as fuel oil, unemployment insurance and a new security system.

On Monday, JJML director Catherine Creedon said that while the proposed budget does call for an increase in spending, that increase is tantamount to asking residents for, on average, an extra $5 per year for library services over what they already pay. Creedon added that breaks down to about $0.43 cents a month, or “less than the price of a stamp,” she said.

Creedon added the trustee race will include a write-in candidate in incumbent Craig Rhodes, who failed to meet deadline to gain a name on the ballot, but has campaigned in the hopes of seeing the library’s restoration and expansion of its Main Street building completed under his tenure on the board.

“Incumbent Craig Rhodes has been instrumental in the building project process,” said Creedon. “And we have another three very strong candidates.”

Incumbent Jackie Brody will join Rhodes, as well as newcomers Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz in the race for seats on the library board.

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