Voters give two thumbs up to library budgets

Riverhead Free Library’s 2011-12 $3.3 million budget was approved Tuesday night by a vote of 271 to 195, and Baiting Hollow Library’s budget was approved, 255-212.

The Riverhead budget calls for a 7.95 percent increase in the tax levy and a 7 percent increase in spending.

Library director Lisa Jacobs said the increases are due mainly to large increases in New York State Retirement payments, high health insurance increases, contractual increases and a high demand for services from patrons.

The Baiting Hollow budget customarily increases by $100 each year and — now that the budget has been approved — will do so again later this year, going from $11,500 to $11,600.

Officials have estimated that the Riverhead increase will amount to about $12 more in taxes for the average homeowner, although tax rates do not become available until later in the year because the district incorporates portions of Southampton and Brookhaven towns as well as Riverhead.

The primary purpose of the annual vote is to authorize the Riverhead School District to contract with Riverhead Free Library for library services for the 2011-12 school year.

About $250,000 of the library’s $3.3 million proposed spending plan comes from state and federal grants and other aid.

The library had 327,678 visitors in 2010, library officials said.

Figuring out property tax rates for the proposed budget will not be possible until later in the year because the towns comprising the district have different tax and equalization rates. Changes in the equalization rate, a figure that doesn’t become available until fall, have caused wild disparity in school and library taxes between Riverhead and Southampton towns in recent years.

However, based on current figures, the owner of property in Riverhead Town assessed at $50,000 (which equates to a market value of about $329,380) would pay $4,498 in Riverhead school taxes, $2,268 in town taxes and $155 in library taxes. If the library rate increases by 7.95 percent, it would amount to about $12 more next year.

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