Hampton Bays Taxpayers Will Vote On Library Budget Tuesday

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The Hampton Bays Public Library will seek approval of its $2.04 million operating budget for the coming year when the proposal is put to a hamlet-wide vote on Tuesday, August 13.

The proposed budget, which seeks to bump up overall spending by more than $30,000, or 1.49 percent, features cuts on expenses almost across the board, with the primary exception falling under labor costs, which includes salaries and benefits for library employees. That line is projected to increase by about $60,000 next year.

If it is approved on Tuesday, the library tax rate is expected to increase about 5 percent, from just over 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to slightly more than 54 cents. As a result, a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $450,000 will pay about $243.13 in library taxes next year, or $11.91 more than the current year, according to a release from the library’s Board of Trustees.

The total taxes collected by the library is expected to increase about 1.27 percent, from nearly $1.79 million to just over $1.8 million.

Hampton Bays Library Director Susan LaVista said the driving force behind the spending increase is a projected hike in health care costs for employees, as well as the promotion of one part-time clerk to full-time to help in the circulation department. Health benefits are projected to increase from $95,209 this year to $103,237 next year, and salaries are expected to go from $964,884 to $1,013,672.

The change would increase the number of full-time employees from 15 to 16, Ms. LaVista said. The library has 53 employees, but the director expects that number to drop to about 50 in the fall when some of the college-age employees go back to school.

To accommodate for the increase in labor costs, Ms. LaVista said she trimmed the fat on other expenses by seeking more cost-effective alternatives and by dialing down allotments to make sure they fit what the library actually spends rather than over-budgeting, which has been the common practice for years.

“I just did some adjustments for previous years for according to what we actual spent,” she said, adding that she was reluctant to make these types of cuts in her first two budgets because she was less familiar with what the library needed to operate. “I’m trying to keep it as lean and mean as possible.”

Recent renovations and repairs allowed the library to drop the building expense section of its budget, according to Ms. LaVista. That line was trimmed from $235,652 this year to $211,204 next year.

All program funding would remain the same under the current proposal.

All registered voters living in Hampton Bays are eligible to cast their ballots between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13. Voting will take place on the main floor of the Ponquogue Avenue library.

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