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Vote on Riverhead Free Library’s $3.8M budget set for Tuesday

04/06/2018 6:01 AM |

Patrons of Riverhead Free Library will go to the polls Tuesday to vote on its proposed 2018-19 budget and, for the first time in years, they’ll also get to decide a contested library board election.

Voting will take place at the library’s meeting room April 10 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Anyone who is a registered voter in the Riverhead School District can cast a ballot in the vote, which is technically a vote to allow the school district to contract for library services.

The proposed library budget totals $3,812,557, which represents a $239,834 increase in taxes over the current year.

While that increase amounts to a 6.7 percent increase in the tax levy, the budget does not pierce the state’s 2 percent tax cap. Exclusions permitted in calculating the cap brought the library’s number down to 2 percent, according to director Kerri McMullen-Smith.

“We don’t have any major changes proposed because we have to keep the budget under the cap,” she said.

The budget does reflect a 2 percent increase in the employees union’s contract and the addition of four or five new employees, Ms. McMullen-Smith said.

Overall personnel costs at the library are slated to increase by about 9 percent, according to the budget.

“We have an increase in programming, which is a lot of what the patrons in the community come to the library for,” Ms. McMullen-Smith said.

That category, which includes print and non-print materials, library programs, bus trips, printing and publicity and membership dues, rose by 2.8 percent, according to the budget.

The library added a new career information center this year, as well as an expanded teen room with advanced technology and equipment and an upgraded computer network, Ms. McMullen-Smith wrote in the library’s newsletter on the budget.

For the second time in two years, the public will also vote this month on the library Board of Trustees, for which five candidates seeking four seats.

In the past, board members were appointed by the trustees themselves, following the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee that screened candidates, according to board member Louise Wilkinson.

Last year was the first time in recent memory that voters got to decide who serves on the library board, Ms. Wilkinson said, but that election was uncontested. The library did hold public votes on its board members many years ago, she added.

“We need a choice for the people,” she said. “We’re spending their money.”

This year, three terms of three years are up for election, as is a single one-year term to conclude an incomplete vacated term.

Voting will be at-large, meaning that top three voter-getters will earn three-year terms and the fourth-place finisher will get the one-year term.

The five candidates are incumbents John Munzel, Dean Terchunian and Ms. Wilkinson and newcomers Janet O’Hare and Ron Wood.

Voters in the Riverhead School District will also cast ballots April 10 on the budget for Baiting Hollow Free Library. This is also a vote on authorizing the school district to contract for library services.

That budget calls for $12,375 in taxes, up $200 from the current year.

Both library votes will occur at the same time and place.

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