Library holds the line on taxes

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The East Hampton Library Board of Managers last week announced that for the fourth consecutive year, it will not seek an increase in revenues from taxpayers.

The board recently adopted its 2009 budget, which was described by Stuart Epstein, chairman of the library’s business committee, as “an austerity budget that includes a hiring freeze and no increase in programs.” Due to the current economic environment, the board believed a “standstill budget” was the prudent course of action, according to library director Dennis Fabiszak.

The 2009 budget total is $1,672,032, of which $1,079,000 is derived from taxes—the same amount as last year. Last year’s total budget was $1,634,902.

Mr. Fabiszak said the rest of the money to support the budget comes from fund-raising activities and donations. Authors’ Night and the Children’s Fair, two events held during the second weekend of August, are the library’s biggest fund-raisers.

“We have a 100-year history of fund-raising and donations, so we have a pretty good track of what we can raise,” Mr. Fabiszak said.

Libraries raise funds by taxing the residents of the school districts they serve. The tax rate for the East Hampton School District is $7.95 out of every $1,000 of assessed value; in Wainscott it is $7.71 and in Springs it is $7.96. The last public referendum in which the library board asked district taxpayers to approve a tax increase was in September 2005. The reason that the East Hampton tax rate is low compared to some other local libraries is that it has never had to issue a bond to pay for construction, asserted Mr. Fabiszak. “We’ve always relied on private donors for construction,” he said.

“With the exception of the New York Public Library, the East Hampton Library is unique in the state of New York,” he said. “I don’t know of another library that hasn’t had a bond vote to pay for construction projects.”

Carolyn kormann

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