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Library Proposes 2.4% Budget Hike

Officials cite rising health, retirement costs.

The Long Beach Public Library has proposed a 2.4 percent budget increase for 2011-12, citing the rising costs in health insurance and contributions to the state retirement system.

The proposal, which was unanimously approved by the library’s board of trustees on March 30 and is up for public vote on May 17, shows a budget increase of about $79,000, from the current $3,227,173 to $3,306,100.

The library is seeking a 2.6 percent hike in the amount of taxes it needs to raise to support the proposed budget.

The hike is driven mainly by health insurance, which is going up from $270,137 to $292, 951, and the NYS Employees Retirement System, from $180,210 to $219,162.

Without those two components the budget increase would drop to under 1 percent, said George Trepp, the library’s director for 30 years. During the past two years, the budget increase averaged 1.52 percent and the tax hike 1.56 percent.

“Those two line items still drove the budget,” Trepp said of retirement and health.

The library actually managed to reduce the health insurance hike from 13 percent to 8 percent by having some employees opting out and others contributing more, Trepp said. Budgeting for the retirement system depends on the performance of the stock market a year ago. “That’s obviously beyond our control,” Trepp said.

He said the tax rate would not be set until August when the county’s property assessments are known, but the estimated monthly library tax is expected to be $15.04 for each homeowner, based on 2010 assessed valuations. Trepp, a Long Beach resident, said he paid about $180 this past year in library taxes and doesn’t see any homeowner shelling out more than $300.

“I think it’s very cost-beneficial to taxpayers,” said Trepp, who added that residents could assess the library’s value to them by using the calculator on the library’s website.

Library officials have looked at different ways of saving money, including the installation of solar panels on the third floor of the building to cut down on heating costs. The total $106,000 project, which was completed in September, cost the library $10,000 after a LIPA rebate and construction grants, Trepp said. LIPA has increased its fuel delivery charge almost 2 percent so the solar panels will come in handy, he said.

The library has managed to swing discounts on DVDs and other purchases as well, he added.

For the next year, the library has decided to shift some of its resources from print to non-print and programming, the director said.

“I think for our solid core of readers we have budgeted sufficiently,” said Trepp, whose library boasts 28,000 cardholders. “We have funding to satisfy the demands of our readers.”

To keep up with demand, though, the library has budgeted more for DVDs, CDs, recorded books and electronic books.

“I think it’s a great budget considering the rise in health insurance and the retirement system,” said trustee Fran Adelson. “I think it’s a very solid budget considering the economic times and the value the library gives to the community.”

Adelson said the library has received a 26 percent reduction in state aid over the last two years.

Library events that are scheduled include a cabaret festival, blues festival, jazz festival, Folk 2 Funk Festival and even a hip-hop program. The library also runs many important events such as a job fair, which is slated for May 24 at 10 a.m. The fair is being run in conjunction with the school district’s Adult Learning Center.

In addition to the budget, registered voters will be asked to fill two trustee seats and both candidates, Carol Arnone and Ira Grushack, are running unopposed. Eugene Colon retired from the board after serving eight years, leaving three years remaining on his most recent term. Adelson decided not to run for reelection after 10 years on the board, leaving a five-year seat open.

The candidate who receives the most votes will win the five-year seat and the runner-up will be given the three-year term.

Eddie May 04, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Trepp is an excellent guy who devotes his entire life to that place and does a wonderful job. But it's time for bigger cuts. It's time to hold the line. Benefits and pension requirements have indeed soared. Don't stop here. We need more cuts. As Americans are forced by our nation's socialist blunders to earn less, services have to be cut. Unfortunately too many of us have got to choose between increases in library taxes and food for our families. Let's do the right thing. The library will be useless if there's nobody left here to use its services.
Thomas T May 04, 2011 at 02:37 PM
The library is a terrific amenity for Long Beach and I love how it caters to patrons of all ages. Worth every penny! I am always surprised to see people voting against the library budget when the board is clearly fiscally responsible and it adds so much to our property values. I guess people who don't read don't see it as necessary.
Gerald Cymbalsky May 05, 2011 at 12:45 PM
I finally have my own laptop computer and subscribe to Netflix. And since the majority of workers at the library are part timers, it should be pointed out they do not get the great benefits but still need the modest salaries they recieve. The Library is still a great idea Ben Franklin came up with and we need to vote for the budget. I own my home and pay taxes, I know it is tough out here for me too!
Sal May 06, 2011 at 03:48 AM
Vote NO on the Library budget! The Library Board didn't get the memo on the economy. The same old raise the budget increase property taxes routine no longer is valid. Nobody gets $200 to $300 of value from the library. If the cost of benefits are increasing then layoff employees or make cuts. Start with eliminating the Point Lookout and West end annexes which are a complete waste. Next, streamline the library from a brick and morter establishment to a virtual digital system where residents can sign out e-books.
Thomas T May 06, 2011 at 10:26 AM
Ladies and Gentlemen of Long Beach Patch, I cordially invite you to ignore Sal / Lance, our latest troll. He hates publicly finded community amenities, which he describes as "socialist", and in fact could politicize a public potted petunia. As with most trolls, he is devoid of practical solutions - in his most recent missive, he suggests that our *public* library convert to an expensive digital system that assumes arguendo that *every* Long Beach resident has an e-reader or can afford one. Ridiculous. It's a PUBLIC library, Sal. Not everyone can afford a $250.00 gadget for each family member, and if you're suggesting that the library system purchase one for each member, then your economy argument went out the window. Think of it this way - more kids in the library = less kids for you to yell "Get off my lawn!" at.
Eddie May 06, 2011 at 10:38 AM
While I agree with Sal's criticism, I enjoy many of the services the LB Public library offers and my kids are better people from having use of it. But unless they wake up to the fact that Long Beach do not continue to support increased spending each year, they will indeed become a casualty of the digital age. Unlike the bloated school system, there is no legislation requiring their existence. A population forced by taxation to eat cat food will shut them down in a minute.
Joseph May 06, 2011 at 12:53 PM
A self appointed Bolshevik commissar just lowered this Patch blog to the level of Stalinist tactics by telling others to ignore peoples opinions because they criticise their point of view. Just as was done under communism this Bolshevik has ended the discussion and relegated a blogger to anonymity. Now everyone can see why so many things are screrwed up in Long Beach and corrupt. VOTE NO on the Library budget. How dare they ask for a tax raise in a terrible economy. And the money is to support the bloated bureaucracy of Long Beach!
Thomas T May 06, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Joseph / Sal / Lance - slinging terms like "socialist" and "communist", "Stalinist" and "Bolshevik commissar" (sic) around on a blog discussing library financing suggest that a visit to said library's History section may be in order. One could begin with Ben Franklin and move up to WWI and WWII to start with. Hint - Stalin wasn't real big on free public education unless the state controlled it, and Mr. Franklin was concerned that books be available to all, not just those who can afford a Kindle. Also, I merely invited people to ignore the hysterical obvious trollery, I didn't command it. I will vote YES on the library budget, in the enduring hope that ignorance can be vanquished and that garbled political metaphors are banished from our national discourse.
Eddie May 06, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Folks sure do get angry when money is picked from their pockets. I really can't blame them. How dare an elected official make the choice to confiscate the money that buys food for my kids! Whining and complaining doesn't get much, and name calling just jeopardizes the credibility of the cause. Notice how the Tea Party group has been infiltrated, diverted and discredited? The Long Beach Library's probably the most professionally managed public service in this place. Trepp is light-years ahead of the tired, ignorant politicos we deal with elsewhere. Here's one place where I've seen public involvement get results. Let your feelings be known. I think, in the Library at least, they'll be heard.
Thomas T May 06, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Eddie, taxes are a public obligation, and they finance the things that make our society worth living in. No one is confiscating anything, nor are pockets being picked. That is the purpose of elections and budget hearings! You have a voice both in this forum and at those hearings which can be heard, and a choice at the polls. I agree with the rest of your assessment of how the library is run and how responsible they are. And I don't blame peole for complaining about waste, fraud and abuse of public funds... but partisan whining (not referring to you, Eddie) is simply pointless.
Eddie May 06, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Thanks, Tom, for your understanding of my comments and your patience with my annoyance. I am one of the angry ones. Owning business property has me fending off these increases and trying relentlessly not to pass along all the costs to my tenants. It's hard to tell a tenant his rent goes up $230/month and that only covers tax increases. So these tax increases hit my family harder than most. The library board does a great job but after begging them to hold the line on taxes, I have no choice but do my best to oust every last one of them next election.
Karl May 07, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Thomas T, the Socialist do gooder has allready made the decision for all voters in Long Beach. Like a good Marxist he has decided that taxes are a public obligation in complete opposite from the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. But what else would you expect from an apparatchik. So as with all past Soviet elections this library election is over before the ballots have been cast. There is no direct corrolation between a library budget increase and increased services. If you examine the budget the increase is for employee benefits and salaries not services to the community. Something is wrong here. So VOTE NO VOTE NO VOTE NO VOTE NO on the budget!
Eddie May 07, 2011 at 02:35 AM
Of course I'll vote NO as I vote on any bill that will take away my money. But in fairness to the Library, their pension fund was mismanaged by the State. It was not invested properly. A fortune was lost in shaky investments. Thus the shortage, which the district is required by law to make up. Benefit costs are increasing mostly because of Federal and State legislation that now requires the coverage of "pre-existing conditions" and multiple "domestic partners". Again, no fault of the Library. That leave the Library with tough choices. How much to cut vs. how much to increase tax levies. They have made substantial cuts. I just believe they are completely out of touch to even suggest any tax increase. I believe they didn't cut enough. That's my view and thus my vote.
Thomas T May 09, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Karl? Sal? Lance? How many soap opera screen names can one troll have? More to the point, how is the library supposed to attract and retain adequate trained staff without competitive slaries and benefits? Vote YES YES YES and send the anti-intellectuals to the dustbin of history, along with stale rhetoric like "apparatchick" - I mean, I'm not a chick at all!

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