GOLD COAST LIBRARY MEETING - TRUSTEES SWORN IN, MORTGAGE PAID IN FULL, AGREEMENT WITH HALM OWNER ANTICIPATED
January 18, 2014 -- Three trustees were sworn in at the Gold Coast Public Library’s annual reorganizational meeting this past Tuesday evening and it was announced that the mortgage on the building that has housed the library since 2005 is now fully paid off.
Jennine Bernesby took the oath office for the first time, while Tobi Kupferman began her second three year term, and Barbara Palermo began her 13th year on the nine member Library Board. Nancy Benchimol was re-elected President, Rosemarie Ryba Vice President, Amy Kempton Secretary and Ms. Palermo Treasurer.
During the regular meeting, Library Director Michael Morea stated that the final mortgage payment on the Library’s building at 50 Railroad Avenue had been made this month. The library had been paying more than $100,000 annually in debt service over the past decade on the $800,000 mortgage. The library continues to lease the annex space for which $45,500 is budgeted this year.
During the meeting, the trustees briefly discussed matters related to the possible purchase of the 5.3 acre Halm Industries property on Glen Head Road. Mr. Morea and a few of the trustees said that since the Library had sent out information to the community early this month, they had received questions and comments from residents and that most of the feedback had been positive.
Ms. Kupferman said that she had heard from many people that “they want more space and more programs.” A few people, Mr. Morea said, had asked “how the purchase would affect taxes.” Trustee Miles Sibell said that he had been approached by members of the community and that none he had spoken with opposed the purchase of the Halm property “on principle.” He said that once the contract is signed, “the community will have the ability to say ‘we want to do this’ or ‘we don’t want to do this’” through a referendum.
During the public comment period, a resident asked about the costs connected to informational mailings and other related expenditures before the referendum takes place. President Nancy Benchimol replied that the Board had anticipated the expenditures and that they had been included in the budget. Mr. Morea added that the costs for disseminating information through the library’s website, e-mails, and mailers were relatively small and that more significant expenses would be required after community approval is granted, such as for architectural services. Ms. Benchimol said that the Library had $1.5 million in reserve for capital expenditures, and that a significant portion of that has been earmarked for expenses related to the purchase.
In response to questions from Northwordnews the next day, Mr. Morea said that the capital reserve “is being used to help offset the costs the Library will expend leading up to the vote as well as expenditures needed after approval and before bond financing is received. Given the complexities of this type of public capital financing, these funds will be used to offset costs that will not need to be included in the referendum.”
Mr. Morea explained that the library’s capital reserve “is a result of prudent budgeting and cost savings." When the Library was first established in 2001, voters had approved an initial budget of $800,000, with that amount budgeted each year, pursuant to law, for the first few years as the library used these funds to create the Library’s collections, programs and services as well as to offset the cost of the library building. Unspent monies during this start-up period had been put into reserve. Additionally, $300,000 in back payments from PILOTs paid by LIPA were also placed into the reserve fund. “The Library now budgets these funds yearly, but conservatively, since this number is fluid based on tax rates and economic factors not available at the time the Library's budget is created,” Mr. Morea said.
Based on Thursday evening’s discussion it appears that the Library Board expects to sign the contract to purchase the Halm property in the very near future, after which the Library will host public informational meetings. Ms. Benchimol and Mr. Morea said that the Board anticipates a community referendum on the purchase being held before the summer.
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