Gloversville library seeks tax hike

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Public Library is proposing a budget of $483,394 that includes a tax-levy increase of 2.07 percent, or $5,473.

“We continue to try to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers while also providing the programs and services the community wants and needs,” Library Director Barbara Madonna said.

Most of the library income comes from the tax levy, which would be $264,579 under the proposed budget for 2013-13. The remainder of the budgeted amount represents fund balance, Friends of the Library contributions, fines, grants, Gloversville Library Foundation income and donations.

Previously known as the Gloversville Free Library, the public library was established by the voters of the Gloversville Enlarged School District in 2005 with a tax levy of $198,200. The levy was flat for five years, and the first increase was approved by voters in 2010 for the 2010-11 budget year, Madonna said.

She said last year’s levy increase for the 2012-13 fiscal year was 2.3 percent, or $5,906. The total levy was $259,106.

Madonna estimated the library tax in the city would increase a third of 1 cent per $1,000 of assessed property value, although the specific tax rates for the towns and the school district will not be set until August, when the information is provided by the state. The library tax is not billed separately; it appears on property owners’ school district tax bills.

She said the biggest spending increases in next year’s proposed budget are for health insurance and retirement costs. The library would spend $341,408 on staffing for the next fiscal year – 71 percent of the total budget, according to library documents.

About 85 percent of the staff’s work is direct customer service, including tech support, reference assistance, program execution, outreach and circulation. Madonna said more patrons are coming to the library seeking help with computer skills needed to apply for jobs, file taxes and research information.

The library hosts programs throughout a year for youths and adults, yet less than 1 percent of the total budget is earmarked for programming. The library would spending $4,590 on programs next year, according to budget information.

The library was able to save money this year by projecting a decrease in heat and electricity costs, Madonna said.

The library also will increase its books and materials budget by $900, or 2 percent, bringing it to about $46,000. In addition to traditional books, it includes the cost of DVDs, books on CD, eBooks and eAudiobooks, newspapers, magazines and databases.

“This is the first increase in 10 years,” Madonna said. “If we were keeping up with inflation, the book and materials budget should be over $55,000.”

According to library documents, the material budget for next year is $45,900.

The library operates on a July-to-June fiscal year.

One seat on the library Board of Trustees is vacant, and the library received no petitions from candidates. A write-in candidate could claim the open seat. The vote on the proposed tax levy increase and the trustee position will take place May 7 from noon to 9 p.m. at the library.