Mattituck-Laurel Library budget will be voted on Tuesday

Tuesday is the day for residents of Mattituck and Laurel to have a say on a budget increase for 2012.

The proposed budget calls for a $35,409 increase in spending. An average homeowner with property assessed at $8,000 would pay an additional $14.64 next year, said library director Kay Zegel. The current tax rate is $49.74 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Much of the increase covers rising costs for fuel oil, health and liability insurance, according to Ms. Zegel. The library would also spend more on staffing, from $786,826 to $813,263, most resulting from higher health insurance costs, she said.

With increasing numbers of library patrons seeking ebooks and audio books through the county cooperative system, which links all local libraries, more money was set aside to support that effort while maintaining the library’s book collection for those “regular book lovers,” Ms. Zegel said.

When library patrons first reached out to get downloadables — ebooks and audio books — from the cooperative system in 2007, there was little demand, just 284 requests. That has grown year by year with 27,638 downloads since Dec. 31 and 369,815 since the system began.

Access to the county system and generous contributions from the Friends of Mattituck-Laurel Library have helped keep expenses in check, Ms. Zegel added.

This year, the Friends assisted in the purchase of a Steinway piano from First Universalist Church of Southold, Ms. Zegel said. The library has long wanted a piano of that quality but wouldn’t have been able to buy one without the Friends’ contributions, she said.
“This is the center of the community,” Ms. Zegel said.

In the days after Tropical Storm Irene left many homes without electricity, many came to the library, which did not lose power and offered Wi-Fi Internet access, she said.

Voting takes place at the library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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