John Jermain Memorial Library Looks at Budget Increase for Home During Renovation

Posted on 01 July 2010

The John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees will present a 2011 draft budget on July 21 that increases spending by 9.8 percent – the majority of that increase linked to the library’s need for $64,000 to rent a temporary space on West Water Street during the restoration of their historic Main Street building, and later, the library’s proposed expansion.

According to John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon, the proposed spending plan is for $1,195,502, $1,139,888 of which would be paid for by residents of the Sag Harbor Union Free School District.

“One of the things this budget will allow us to do is move forward with the building project,” said Creedon on Monday.

Creedon explained that the board intends to petition the Sag Harbor Planning Board, which is reviewing a proposed 7, 725 square-foot, three-story modern expansion at the library, to review a temporary space on West Water Street separately from the rest of the project. The hope, said Creedon, is the planning board will be able to approve the use of the temporary space in time for the library to rent it at the end of the summer. After six to eight weeks of work at the Graphic Arts Building, located across the street from the post office, Creedon said JJML would close for one week before ideally moving into the space following library’s centennial celebration on October 10.

“I would like to have some sort of ceremonial parade, with the high school or community band, from the library to our new space,” she said.

If approved, it appears the expansion of JJML will not take place until the spring, noted Creedon, and moving into the temporary space late this fall would allow the library to apply for a separate building permit to address what she called “critical” repairs to the historic library, specifically to the windows, the skylight in the rotunda and to the exterior masonry of the building.

It would also enable the library to forgo repairing a furnace at JJML that they hope to replace with a geothermal heating system during the expansion, as they will not need to rely on the all but broken heating system to see patrons through another winter.

Creedon said the costs of these minor repairs will not increase the cost of the building project as a whole.

Outside of the $64,000 needed to rent the temporary space, Creedon said she tried to keep the budget as close to last year’s spending plan as possible, understanding the economy has taken its toll on the pocketbooks of district residents.

Health insurance premiums have been estimated to rise some 16 percent, she said, and as a result, the library has budgeted $143,290 to cover insurance and benefit costs for its employees, an increase of $18,290.

The library has also seen an increase in demand for compact discs, young adult videos and in particular, audio books for adults. She proposes to increase spending for audio books from $4,600 to $5,400.

Among the more significant cuts, the draft budget slashes funding for building and grounds expenses from $19,480 this year to $4,400 in 2011, with the hope that the library will be able to move into West Water Street this fall. Should the library fail to get approval from the village for that space, Creedon said it would use the $64,000 to make 201 Main street “livable and operable for the staff and the public” through the winter.

Creedon said despite her effort to keep the library budget lean, she and her staff are developing programming aimed at expanding the role of the library in patron’s lives. Working with technology coordinator Eric Cohen, Creedon said staff are developing JJML’s virtual presence, hoping to create an interactive forum where community members and experts will be able to post original content on the library website. Creedon envisions inviting “guest librarians” to the site where they can share expertise on topics like sustainability, cooking, sewing and the like.

She is also working on expanding the library’s outreach to homebound patrons.

The board of trustees intends to review the spending plan at its July meeting, and Creedon reminded the library will host a public meeting in September, prior to the budget vote, when trustee candidates will also formerly introduce themselves to the community.

The library board will have four seats up for election this fall, with Carl Peterson and Carol Williams vying to keep their positions on the board. Nancy Hallock has opted not to seek another term and the fourth position is the remaining one-year term of Theresa Ameres who resigned earlier this year.

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