The budget that the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved last week for the 2015 fiscal year, beginning in July, has a much different profile than it has had in years past.
With the main branch slated to close for almost a year in November for an extensive renovation, the budget features many line items that are reductions from last year, in personnel and operating costs. On the other hand, there are one time increases related to the 10.4 million dollar project that project an increase of over $1.7 million compared to 2014’s bottom line.
“This is the first year we’re getting PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) from the county,” said Neil Zitofsky, head of the business office, pointing out an addition of $129,000 to the budget that, in effect. Is not charged to Great Neck taxpayers. “The increase also includes $875,00, for the first time, for debt service for the new bond referendum.” Voters approved the bond last November.
“We have additional costs that are construction related that we are not bonding,” added Board President Marietta DiCamillo. “Why would you want to pay for furniture for 20 years?” she cited as an example.
“We shifted monies around, being very prudent about the way we spend our money,” she continued, “and we’ve managed to cover the bonding between the savings that we have and putting in another $700,000 from our main building and special services fund.” That fund represents accumulated surplus carryovers from previous years. No surplus funds were budgeted during the 2014 fiscal year.
The board held a lightly attended public hearing earlier in the week to allow residents to question and comment on the proposal. The budget will be up for voter approval in May.
Former trustee Ralene Adler, a current member of two library committees, did voice her concerns from the audience about future costs for the teen (Levels) and children’s programs. Adler complained that the costs for these programs were not specific enough and that information about them was lacking.
In answering Adler, Trustee Varda Solomon explained, “The nature of the budget is that every line is an estimate. We’re planning a certain number of programs and we’re estimating what programs will cost. If it turns out that a program costs a lot more than we ever planned, we may have to look for a substitute program.” Adler was promised more specifics.
As the main branch will be out of service, the personal services budget drops by $934,000 for the coming year. Costs of employee benefits also figure to drop by $75,000. But the employee unemployment insurance estimate jumps substantially to almost $300,000, a reflection of the need for fewer personnel with the main building under construction.
There was no construction budget in 2014 but the new budget proposal lists a figure of just over two million dollars for items such as moving materials out of the main branch, construction documents, bidding, hazmat abatement, reconfiguring the other three branches to provide increased services in lieu of the availability of the main branch, etc. In line with DiCamillo’s thinking about keeping items such as these out of the bond, these costs, directly connected to the renovation, are just for this year.