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Riverhead Free Library proposes budget under tax levy cap

Riverhead Free Library officials are proposing a 2017-18 budget that would increase the tax levy by 1.03 percent — a figure allowable under New York State’s 1.26 percent tax cap.

The plan calls for $3.75 million in overall spending, an increase of just $84,316 over the current year. Of that, $3.57 million would be raised through taxes.

A budget hearing that had been set for March 14 has been rescheduled to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in the library’s grand room due to inclement weather. During the hearing, library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith will make a presentation about the proposal.

“We’re not just a regular traditional library now where people come in with a book or have a reference question,” she said. “It’s more a place where people meet and they attend programs and they get to learn something new and meet people. That’s really what it’s become.”

The budget vote itself — which is technically a vote on the library’s contract with the Riverhead School District — will take place Tuesday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the library’s grand room.

Personnel costs comprise $2.75 million in the 2017-18 budget, a 1.6 percent increase over this year. One of the primary reasons for this difference is a 10.6 percent increase in health insurance costs — from 339,000 this year to $375,000 next year, according to figures.

The proposed budget also includes $399,700 for library materials including books, an 8 percent increase over this year.

Library officials haven’t provided an estimated tax rate, as that number differs in each of the three towns the facility serves and also relies on assessment information that won’t become official until the fall.

This year, library taxes in Riverhead Town amounted to roughly two percent of the total amount of property taxes collected by the town.

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