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Proposed Library Budget Calls For 3.8 Percent Increase

As it stands, the proposed 2013/14 budget is $3,481,390, an increase of $127,360 over the current budget.

Though the proposed 2013/14 budget for the Garden City Public Library calls for a 3.8 percent increase, library officials say its essentially "flat" and in some respects actually reduced when considering prior spending plans.

By way of overview, almost 203,000 people visited the library in 2012; an average of 500 visits per day. During Superstorm Sandy 13,000 people sought warmth, electricity and computer and Internet access during the prolonged power outage, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 visits.

Further, 71 percent of Garden City residents have a Garden City Public Library card, according to Voegler.

As it stands, the proposed budget is $3,481,390, an increase of $127,360 over the current budget, according to library trustee Randy Colahan.

According to figures compiled by Colahan, fellow trustee Jack Pascal and library director Carolyn Voegler, the budget is $263,791 less than the budget four years ago for fiscal year 2009/10; since 2009/2010 the budget item for salaries was reduced by $315,000 despite yearly average salary increases of 2.5 percent; and the budget item for library materials was reduced by $154,000.

All but $6,927 of the 2013/14 budget increase is due to mandated increases related to personnel, officials said. (Library staff falls under the village CSEA collective bargaining unit.) Mandated employee benefits have increased by $262,000 since 2009/10, officials said.

The library's full time staff has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2007/8 (24 to 21 full time employees). Part-time staff has dropped from 46 to 35 since that same fiscal year. Further, the salary for part-time staff has reduced by $177,153 ($364,537 to $187,384).
 
Salary cost reductions were achieved through attrition (elimination of the assistant library director and senior library clerk positions), reduced overtime and a nearly 60 percent reduction in part-time staff hours (20,362 hours in 2006/7 to 8,450 hours in 2011/12).

"Director Voegler has implemented the reduction policy established and approved by the library board and should be complimented on an excellent job," Colahan said. "Those are significant figures."

Keeping the library materials budget at 0 percent was a difficult decision, Voegler said.

Officials said reductions were partially made up through participation in the Nassau Library System interlibrary loan program for library materials.

The library has been unable to purchase as many copies of bestseller titles because of the reduction in the library materials budget, which is represented by 51 percent print and 49 percent non-print.

"The challenge with reduced funding is to balance the collection with purchases of traditional print materials (books, magazines and newspapers) with non-print formats (audio cd’s, audiobooks, DVDs, databases, software and downloadable audiobooks and eBooks)," Colahan read from a prepared statement during budget talks this month.

Citizens Budget Review & Advisory Committee (CBRAC) member Linda Ryan, who served for many years as director of the Rittenberg Law Library at St. John's University School of Law, was concerned by how much the materials budget was slashed during the past few years.

"I think most troubling is the materials budget," she said. "One thing maybe we should think about is an allocation for the materials budget separate and apart from the budget as a whole because clearly in a budget like this you have very little room to maneuver. When you have to cut you have to cut the materials budget and I think it's to the point that it's now damaging our library."

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