Riverhead Free Library seeking 9% budget increase

Riverhead Free Library is proposing to exceed the state’s 2% tax levy with its 2024-2025 budget. 

The budget is up for vote on April 9, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the library. 

According to numbers provided by the district, the proposed operating budget for 2024-25 is $4,923,548, up 9.46% over the 2023-24 total of $4,498,055.

The library district covers Riverhead Town, as well as parts of Southampton and Brookhaven.

“The library district has developed and implemented a thoughtful five-year plan, during which we will be undertaking significant necessary capital improvements aimed to substantially improve our library building and grounds,” library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith said.

Among the top projects the library plans to work on are improving the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

“Our inadequate HVAC system is 23 years old,” McMullen-Smith said.

The library received a grant of $275,000 for the HVAC system, she said. That grant came from a group called New York State Construction Air for Library. 

Also in need of repairs is the sound system in the library. 

“Our current system is barely operational,” Ms. McMullen-Smith said. 

Next up is what’s known as a “Digital Play Table” for the youth and family services department. 

The 32-inch touch table “provides an educational, fun, interactive experience for children of all ages, beginning at age 3, said Ms. McMullen-Smith.

“We have judiciously saved and put aside monies dedicated with these types of impending needs in mind,” Ms. McMullen-Smith said. “We are thus well-positioned to address most of the necessary capital improvement plans.”

If the budget is approved, officials said Riverhead homeowners will pay an average of $291.20 in taxes to support the library, an increase of $25.03 over last year’s levy. 

The are also four candidates running for seats on the library’s Board of Trustees: Mary Byrne McDonnell, JoAnna Polistena, Susan Bergman and Mitchell Hagler. 

Bios of the four candidates can be found on the Riverhead Free Library’s website.