GOLD COAST LIBRARY BUDGET VOTE AND TRUSTEES ELECTION ON WEDNESDAY
September 8, 2016 -- On Wednesday September 7, nearly 90 residents of Glen Head, Glenwood Landing and Old Brookville turned out for the Gold Coast Public Library’s annual budget vote and trustees election and expressed strong support for the 2017 spending plan that represents an increase of less than 0.1% over the current year. 73 were in favor while 14 voted no to the penny a month per resident tax increase. Additionally, Rosemarie Ryba and Amy Kempton, the only two candidates on the ballot for three open seats were re-elected to a sixth three year term on the Library Board. Earning the third spot was resident David Martin who received 14 write-in votes. Also receiving write in votes were Bill Mozer (9) and Robert Mazella (1), as well as Craig Hennenberger (1) who is currently on the board but was not seeking to continue when his term expires in January. The dollar amount of the $1.3 million spending plan is virtually unchanged from each of the past two years, with expenses overall anticipated to rise by only $1,045.
The very modest increase is largely a result of a decline in payroll costs, with two full time employees having left the library and their responsibilities being taken on by part-time staff. Additionally pension costs continue to decline as they have over the previous two years. These reductions are offset largely by purchases of computer equipment, the purchase of books, and building repairs.
The revenue side of the budget is much more complicated with the removal of LIPA properties in both this library district and across Nassau County from the tax rolls. The Power Authority will instead make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) totaling more than $267,000. That change has greatly affected the calculation of the tax levy limit (or tax cap) which is approximately $250,000 less than last year. In response to questions at the August 31st budget hearing, Mr. Morea said that the tax levy will be lower than the cap by about $5,000 but the cap has not yet been set by the state.
However the lower cap does not translate into an equivalent reduction in taxes for individual homeowners, who on average pay less than $10 a month to support the library, since the County has increased the proportion of the total tax levy paid by classes 1 and 2 (residential taxpayers) while decreasing the overall share paid by class 3 utilities. This has happened in virtually all taxing districts across Nassau County.
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CANDIDATES FOR GOLD COAST LIBRARY BOARD DISCUSS SPACE AND OTHER ISSUES AT MEET THE CANDIDATES FORUM
September 4, 2016 -- On Wednesday, August 31, the Gold Coast Public Library hosted a Meet the Candidates forum that gave residents the opportunity to hear the thoughts of the two candidates running for three seats on the Library’s Board of Trustees. Incumbents Amy Kempton and Rosemarie Ryba are seeking re-election, but no community member submitted a candidate’s petition by the deadline for the third open position. That seat will be filled by the resident who receives the most write-in votes. In the case that no write-ins are cast, the 9 member board can appoint someone from the community to fill the seat.
Wednesday’s forum was emceed by Glenwood Landing resident Bill Mozer and attended by about eight or nine community members - among them four library board trustees not up for re-election, a cameraman, Mr. Mozer, and a reporter.
Ms. Ryba has been a resident of the community for the past 37 years, and a library board trustee since the library’s founding in 2001, and currently serves as the board’s vice president. She has worked for over 30 years as a Revenue Agent for the Department of the Treasury specializing in tax exempt organizations.
Ms. Kempton, also a five term library trustee and currently the board’s secretary, has lived in the area since 1975 and has taught in the Great Neck School District for 35 years as an elementary school instrumental music teacher.
Both Ms. Ryba and Ms. Kempton said in their introductions that they were members of the original North Shore Citizens Committee for Library Service which worked throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to have a library district created for the communities of Old Brookville, Greenvale, Glen Head, and Glenwood Landing. The effort developed out of a project of the Girl Scout troop the two women led, they explained.
Asked to explain their vision for the library, both candidates emphasized the need for more space.
“Our job is to investigate all possible locations for the library, leaving no stone unturned, while keeping in mind the community’s needs and resources.” Ms. Kempton responded. “I think we’ve outgrown our current little place.”
“Our library desperately needs more space,” agreed Ms. Ryba, who then explained that the library’s main building has only 4,000 square feet of space with an additional 1200 square feet at the annex and 1000 in that building’s basement rented for $3000 and $1200 per month respectively.
She said that enrollment in children’s programs is limited due to fire department regulations, and as a result sometimes multiple sessions of a program must be run and in some cases families have been turned away.
Ms. Ryba added that not only would a larger building accommodate that demand for programs, but that “we’d love to have a community room and a better children’s section.”
Last year’s vote against the budget, she said, was a protest against the proposal to finance the purchase of the Halm property and the building of a new library. The board, she said, has been trying to both be mindful of people’s financial concerns while meeting the community’s needs for a larger library and community space.
She continued that the library is a great bargain. “If you look at your tax bill,” she said, “the library is the best deal around. Most families are paying $100 for library services. Compare that to your school tax and other taxes. It is, if not the lowest, one of the lowest in Nassau County.”
Asked how the library could reach out to teenagers, Ms. Kempton responded that the library has established connections with the high school so that students can get community service credits volunteering there. One way of doing that is by assisting senior citizens with using computers and other technologies. Additionally she said that the library helps publicize and stock books for students’ school summer reading lists and that the library is often used by older students as a place to tutor younger students.
Ms. Ryba added that one way of attracting more teenagers to the library would be by providing a good space to do research and read but that doing so is not possible in the current building.
As for outreach to senior citizens, Ms. Ryba said that the library delivers books to homebound residents. Additionally, she said, there are many programs at the library that seniors enroll. “Seniors,” she said, “are very much involved in the Library.”
Mr. Mozer encouraged the library to use Facebook to publicize its programs. Ms. Ryba said that the library does maintain a library Facebook page. Library Director Mike Morea said the library was considering posting information on the various Facebook groups in the future.
CORRECTION - An earlier version of this article stated that the annex had 12,000 square feet of space with an additional 10,000 square feet in the basement for storage. The correct figures are 1,200 and 1,000 respectively.
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