Sag Harbor Library Voters Approve $2.3 Million Budget

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The 2014 budget for the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor was overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday night, 165-28.

Library trustees had asked residents of the Sag Harbor School District to approve a nearly $2.3 million operating budget that breaks the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap. Included in the spending plan is $905,000 from a debt service agreement approved in 2009 to restore and expand the historic library building on Main Street.

Residents will now pay $1.3 million in property taxes, with the library kicking in $69,080 through fundraising. The budget approved on Tuesday represents a 2.8-percent increase over last year’s budget of $2.2 million.

“The staff, the board and I are very grateful for the public’s continued support,” said Library Director Catherine Creedon. “It seems fitting that this year’s vote was held during Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of libraries’ unwavering commitment to protecting intellectual freedom for the communities we serve.”

Taxpayers were asked to chip in an additional $1,253,915, a total increase of $60,450, or about $5 per year for the average homeowner, according to the budget proposal. The $5 number is an average, with individual property taxes being raised 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

According to Ms. Creedon, all the increases in the budget are for operating expenses, which include employee benefits, increased circulation of books, higher utility costs, expanded programming for families and seniors, an expansion of the digital library, and a climate-controlled storage space for “rare local materials and artifacts.” Such artifacts include the library’s collection of historical photographs, whaling records and an original copy of the first Bible printed in the colonies, the “Eliot Bible,” published in 1663 in the native Algonquin language. These artifacts will be removed from storage and placed back in the Main Street building once restoration has been completed.

Budget increases over last year include $35,367 in salary increases for the 19 employees (12 are part-time), a 2.2-percent increase; $19,050 in new library materials; and $14,690 in administrative and office expenses. The expected employee benefits also went up $2,456 because, as Ms. Creedon explained, the two employees who currently opt out of the health insurance plan offered are expected to opt in this coming year with the changes coming under the Affordable Care Act.

Also on Tuesday, three open seats on the eight-member Board of Trustees were filled following an uncontested race. Incumbent Linley Whelan will return for a second term after receiving 188 votes, but former board member Carol Williams and former board president Carl Peterson—who both, Ms. Creedon noted, played an integral role in shaping the future of the library with their work on renovation of the historic building—reached their three-term limit.

Alison Bond, an active library patron and Sag Harbor Historical Society board member with years of experience in publishing and editing, according to Ms. Creedon, won one seat with 175 votes.

Joining her will be Nick Gazzolo, whom Ms. Creedon said is also an active library user with a business background. Mr. Gazzolo, who received 173 votes, serves on other local organization boards, including the group Save Sag Harbor.

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