By Tessa Raebeck
With the much-anticipated move back to its renovated and expanded home at 201 Main Street on the horizon, the board of Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) is presenting a budget draft that aims to cover the expenses of the building without exactly knowing what they will be.
“This budget was by far the most interesting budget for the board and I to put together in the years that I’ve worked at the library,” director Cathy Creedon said Monday, July 21, “because we’re almost back into the old, fresh, new building and we don’t have a real clear sense—because we’re not there yet—of what any of our operating expenses would be.”
The total of the 2015 draft budget, proposed at a library board meeting Wednesday, July 16, is $2,399,812. It includes operating expenses and debt service but is excluding capital expenses.
The budget represents an increase of $111,367 over the 2014 total budget, which was $2,288,445.
It would result in a 5.8-percent increase in the tax collected on the library’s behalf by the Sag Harbor School District, increasing that by $128,723 to $2,348,088. Those figures include funds for the library’s operating expenditures and the $905,000 in annual debt service approved at the time of the library’s 2009 renovation referendum.
Income designated for operating expenses (exclusive of funds raised through the capital campaign to improve the building) that the library generates itself through fundraisers, fines and other means is projected at $51,724 for 2015.
Ms. Creedon said the budget increase is due to moving into a bigger and better building, a move that has been stalled several times but should occur over the winter.
“At a minimum, we expect to see increases in electricity,” the director said. “We’ve been seeing our electric bills go up month after month even here in our temporary space, as we have people use our facility as a resource to support information searching of a digital nature. People are charging their laptops here or their iPad—they’re interfacing those devices with our collection to try to bring their research into the 21st century, which has been a great thing.”
Ms. Creedon said she has met with PSEG Island representatives to try to determine how much electricity the new building will need. In the proposed budget, electric expenses would increase by $8,439 for a total projected cost of $36,439.
The other major anticipated increase in expenses is due to staffing.
The building is four times larger than the library’s temporary space at 34 West Water Street, so custodial hours will need to be added.
The library moved into its temporary space around the same time as Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the 2-percent tax cap on school districts. As a result of being in a smaller building and under a smaller budget, three employees left without being replaced. A desk clerk will not be replaced, but Ms. Creedon hopes to reinstate the adult programming coordinator and local history library positions.
“I really want to bring that building to light, be able to celebrate our local history holdings and the programming that we have,” Ms. Creedon said, adding that the number of people visiting the library for programs is increasing monthly.
“I think that kind of face-to-face instruction is something the community is really hungry for in terms of how they gather their information,” she added.
Ms. Creedon is hopeful the proposed budget for 2015 will enable the library to stay below the tax cap next year—and that JJML and the community will be enjoying the new library before the spring.
“I can see the staff, I can see the public computers, I can see the reading room full of people and it’s really wonderful,” the director said.
The terms of three current board members—Jackie Brody, Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz—will expire on December 31, 2014. They are all eligible for re-election.
A budget hearing and trustee forum will be held at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19, preceding the regular monthly meeting. The library trustee election and budget vote is Monday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.