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Proposed Pound Ridge Library Budget Has Double-Digit Hikes, More Services

Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- The Pound Ridge Library's proposed 2015 budget includes double-digit spending and tax levy increases, as more services are being added for patrons.

The budget, which is up for a public vote on Tuesday, calls for a 16.36-percent boost in spending, bringing total appropriations from $679,863 for 2014 to $791,117 for the coming fiscal year. The tax levy, which is the amount of revenue that would be collected through property taxes, would rise by 17.82 percent, from $644,633 for 2014 to $759,487 for 2015.

The proposed levy amount is above the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, confirmed David Dow, who is president of the library Board of Trustees. However, no supermajority from voters is required for an override of the tax cap, according to Dow, which is in contrast to school district budgets. The only supermajority needed was from the board, which Dow confirmed gave unanimous approval for the budget.

The proposed tax rate, which is the amount that people owe per $1,000 of assessed value, would rise by 30 cents, going to $2.02 per $1,000. This translates to an average increase of $49 per household.

The added services for the budget included more hours -- they would be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays - and the addition of an assistant to work on coordination with schools and more programming for children. Additionally, the library announced that space is being repurposed and work on consolidating collections has been done. An expansion of the building could take place in the future.

"In the meantime, the trustees will be working with architects and other professionals on a thoughtful expansion plan that best suits long-term needs," the library states in a budget announcement. "In addition to increased floor space, the plan will involve significant projects that must be addressed in the near future including improvements to the parking lot, which is undersized and in disrepair, and to the entranceways, where automatic doors will assist the handicapped and parents with young children."

While the spending and levy increase percentages are high, the dollar amounts are low when compared to a larger entity's budget. For example, the Bedford Central School District's current budget, which was approved by voters in May, has a tax-levy hike of more than $1.5 million but the percentage is only 1.41.

"We consider any tax increase very carefully," Dow explained. "To keep this in proper perspective you need to recognize that the library constitutes a very small portion (a few percent) of the local tax bill."

The budget announcement also states that the library is underfunded. Data cited by the library show that for operating expenses the library is 32nd out of 38, while it is 37th for "operating expenses per transaction in the county."

"While the community has consistently supported budget increases since the library’s conversion  from a private library association to a special taxing district, funding is still among the lowest in the county," the announcement states.

The announcement notes that the library's endowment had to be "spent down" in order to finance work on the building, which it notes was necessary and "relating to the structural integrity and safety of the building."

The budget vote is from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the library, 271 Westchester Ave. Also up for votes are seven candidates vying for four board seats.

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