By ASHLEY HELMS
Although less than 200 residents went to the polls, The Mamaroneck Public Library’s 2014 budget passed with flying colors on Dec. 11.
Four incumbent library trustees; Susan Feitler, Laurie Girsky, Joseph Vozza and Treasurer Steve Warner, along with newcomer Joe Germano, were also elected to serve on the library board for three-year terms starting in June.
The budget was approved by a 77 percent majority vote, with 159 residents voting in favor of it and 38 voting the budget down.
According to numbers provided by the Westchester County Board of Elections, there are 10,658 registered voters in the village.
Susan Riley, the library director, said she was happy the budget was approved by such a wide margin.
“It was a low turnout, but that’s alright. I’m happy it passed,” Riley said.
The approved budget will increase an average Mamaroneck household’s library taxes by approximately $12. This is mostly due to increased salaries for employees and rising healthcare costs, but library officials said this is the lowest increase they have seen in several years. Last year, library taxes were raised by about $16.
The Mamaroneck library has been a special taxing district since 1991. To become a special district, the measure was approved by the state legislature, granting the library the ability to impose a tax.
The exact percentage of a resident’s taxes that go towards the library is unknown, but it’s very small in comparison to school and municipal taxes, according to library officials.
The 21 staffing member positions at the library will remain unchanged and the budget and the property tax levy stands at 2 percent. The approved budget will take affect in June 2014.
Employee salaries are up to a total of $992,500 from $971,000 in 2013 and health insurance costs are up to $11,500 from $10,000 this year.
About $154,000 in funds applied to the new budget is expected to be taken out of the library’s reserve in order to keep tax increases on residents minimized, according to library officials.
There is about $2 million in the library’s reserve fund, but a large chunk of it is allocated to pay for bonds used for the renovation project that finished last year, according to Library Business Manager Mary Soto.
Laurie Girsky, who was re-elected to her third term on the library board, said the Board of Trustees wants to continue efforts aimed at bringing the community into the library.
“We have a new, beautiful building and new computers. They are wonderful resources,” she said.
To be eligible to run, Girsky said she had to collect at least 30 petition signatures; similar to the process used when running for governmental elected office. But the trustee said she collected her signatures in a creative way. She has been using the tactic since she was first elected to the board six years ago.
“I [collect signatures] on Halloween; otherwise people aren’t home,” Girsky said. “It was a very warm, friendly evening.”
In addition to book collections, the library boasts 35 computer stations with 21 designated for public, non-member use, according library officials. Three Amazon Kindles and three Barnes and Noble Nooks, which are electronic devices used for reading that take the place of an actual book, have been donated to the library over the last nine months for members to use.
The board was able to more accurately calculate the budget this year with the conclusion of a renovation project that started in 2008. The reconstruction project wrapped up in 2012
Upgrades to the library included bringing in more advanced technology, including new computers, and a more comfortable area to be used as a community meeting or study room, as well as a coffee bar.