The story of next year’s Rockville Centre Public Library budget is one of tight margins and careful spending.
The proposed budget, totaling almost $3.25 million — a 2 percent increase over the current spending plan — is designed to combat rises in utility, maintenance and retirement costs with significant cuts in spending. With employee retirement costs ballooning by nearly $74,000 and necessary repairs to equipment and the 50-year-old facilities accounting for another $8,500, the library’s Board of Trustees cut capital spending by more than 33 percent.
“We had to reach the number that the state gave us, so we’ll buy less,” said Library Director Maureen Chiofalo, referring to the property tax cap that prevents the library from raising taxes more than 2 percent. “We can still make it work; there’s just not going to be anything extra.”
The facility’s major program cut will be in its Sunday services. According to Bill Murray, the trustee responsible for preparing the budget, keeping the building closed on Sunday will allow the library to continue purchasing new books and materials.
“We’ve always run a very tight ship on the budget, but when they brought in this mandated tax cap, it forced us to stop Sunday services,” Murray said. “Normally, the library is open for short hours on Sundays during the school year, but this year we’re keeping it closed. It’ll save us $50,000 to $55,000. For us to make the numbers, this was the only way to make it work.”
An additional concern is the Nassau Library System, which connects all 54 public libraries in Nassau County. The system provides numerous services that Rockville Centre library patrons use, including summer reading programs, online databases, interlibrary deliveries, consulting services, staff development and e-book access through the Nassau Digital Doorway program. But after major cuts to the NLS budget by the state, all of the public libraries in the system had to increase payments to preserve its services. In Rockville Centre, that increase amounted to nearly $6,000.
“The state cut [the NLS] budget back to 1997 numbers …,” Chiofalo said. “We don’t want to do this increase, but if we don’t, it won’t exist.”