Request for library on ballot


No one wants to pay more taxes, but Southold Free Library director Caroline MacArthur is hoping voters will agree that her budget is worth the $1 tax rate hike projected this year.

The Southold Free Library is the only local library whose revenue request appears on the same ballot as the school budget. Voting takes place May 18 from 3 to 9 p.m. at the high school. Ms. MacArthur is seeking voter approval of a $765,052 stipend from the school district that would cost them $24.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from $23.74.

The library’s total budget would be $813,700, up from $777,875, with the remaining revenues coming from the library’s fund balance, fines and fees, contributions and bank interest.

What that extra $1 in the tax rate would buy is a continued flow of media from books, magazines and newspapers to CDs, DVDs, downloadable books, WiFi Internet access, programs for patrons, expertise on research and homework, and homebound services for those unable to get to the library, Ms. MacArthur said.

She presented her budget at the May 5 Southold Board of Education meeting.

Spending increases are needed primarily to cover personnel costs, including salaries and benefits, she said. That expense would go from $527,425 to $567,800. Other proposed increases include a hike from $71,500 to $75,500 for materials and administrative costs that would go from $18,400 to $20,700.

The budget reflects cuts in building maintenance from $81,950 to $75,750 and in contracts and services from $78,600 to $73,950.

Still in the works is a planned $7.25 million expansion project, $6 million of which is expected to be raised through a bond issue. The board hasn’t made a decision yet as to when to ask voters for bond approval, Ms. MacArthur said. The project has been on hold for about two years because of the downturn in the economy.

“The need didn’t go away,” Ms. MacArthur told The Suffolk Times prior to the school board meeting.

Libraries, like schools and hospitals, have seen sharp cuts in outside aid this year, Ms. MacArthur said. She is expecting no state aid. County aid was previously eliminated, making the library more dependent on local taxes and contributions than it ever has been, she said.

The library’s budget will appear as a proposition on the Southold school budget ballot on Tuesday at the junior-senior high school gymnasium.

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