Vote on $4.7 million Riverhead Free Library budget is Tuesday

Riverhead Free Library’s 2023-2024 budget vote will be held Tuesday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the library at 330 Court St. in Riverhead. Although the proposed $4.7 million operating budget will pierce the state’s 2% tax cap, the total increase will only amount to a $29.23 increase for the average property owner, according to library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith.

With the average household assessed at $44,512, that would bring the average yearly cost to $266.17 per household for library services, Ms. McMullen-Smith said.

Some of the increases in the proposed budget are as follows: 

• Books, proposed to increase by just 0.38%

• Digital resources, proposed to increase by just over 25%

• Library programs, proposed to increase 43% 

• Museum passes, proposed to increase from $5,000 to $10,000

Other expenses in the proposed budget are a $37.40% increase in computer equipment and a 16.67% increase in furniture and equipment. 

“We also have to build a new website because our website platform is no longer going to be supported,” Ms. McMullen-Smith added. 

In 2022, Riverhead Free Library patrons saved a total of $3.5 million in personal costs by going to the library instead of buying things, according to a library report. That number was derived by adding the costs of things like books, magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, as well as the cost of streaming and downloads. Added to that are the cost of things like programs attended, meeting room usage and database searches, all of which are free to library patrons. 

New services in Riverhead Free Library include mobile hot spots, where someone can connect to the internet from wherever they are, use of blood pressure kits and being able to get library material by mail. 

The library also hosts events like live music and other forms of entertainment.

Barbara Ripel; Jeff Zeiger, Ruth Nelson and Janet Vuturo are running unopposed for seats on the library Board of Trustees.