Budget semantics

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Your article on the Westhampton Free Library contained factual errors and misrepresented the nature of the budget that voters are being asked to approve on May 20 [“Library Proposing 43% Spending Hike,” May 1]. We hope that this letter clarifies our proposed budget. Specifically, the facts are as follows:

1. The library’s operating budget is increasing by only $83,861. This amount results in a nominal increase in library taxes for our residents and allows the library to maintain its high level of service. This is the actual amount of increased spending voters are being asked to approve.

2. The first debt service payment on the new library is also included in this budget, which is why the operating budget increase appears to be high, i.e., a “43% spending increase.” However, voters have already approved this spending with their affirmative vote on the new library last fall. This means that regardless of the outcome of this budget, the debt service payment is included in the new operating budget as it has been pre-approved. Our community’s voters approved this spending knowing that it would begin to appear with the new library operating budget. There is no new money for the building. The actual cost to the community has decreased due to lower interest rates.

3. The school district’s operating budget is separate from the library’s operating budget. It was inaccurately reported that “school taxes would have to increase to offset the [new library] cost” if the library budget is not approved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Library taxes and school taxes are independent of one another.

As the trustees advertised last fall, the cost of the new building project was pegged at approximately $10 per month for an average assessed value home. The actual cost is 14 percent lower and is reflected in the proposed annual operating budget. The savings come from the interest rate we received when we borrowed for the new building.

We encourage our community’s voters to understand the facts of the proposed budget. The actual tax increase associated with the operating budget is quite small (especially by historic standards), and passage of this budget will continue to allow the library to operate at the highest level of service for our community.

MIKE LENNON, PresidentKAREN ANDREWS, Vice PresidentJOAN LEVANESTHER GLAZERJANE LAPPLEMARIA MOOREHANK TUCKERWesthampton Free Library ?Board of TrusteesThe figures reported in last week’s article are correct in that overall expenses, based on a budget-to-budget worksheet provided by Library Director Matthew Bollerman, are increasing by 43 percent next year under the $2.1 million spending plan being proposed by the library’s Board of Trustees. The article also states that the bulk of spending increase will finance the construction of a new $7.8 million library approved by voters last year. However, the story inaccurately reported that the cost of the library would have to be picked up by the school district if the library budget is rejected. In that scenario, the library district, and not the school district, would be the entity collecting the taxes to finance the project—Ed.

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