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Gloversville library preparing 2021-22 budget

GLOVERSVILLE — Early efforts by the Gloversville Public Library Board of Trustees to prepare the 2021-22 budget point to the likelihood that voters in the spring will be asked to consider a modest tax levy increase.

Board Vice President of Finance Greg Niforos on Tuesday presented early details on the developing preliminary 2021-22 library budget. The annual budget is typically finalized in February.

Niforos noted efforts to keep expenses in-line with the current fiscal year’s budget and pointed to the realization of some savings through strategies developed by Director Valerie Acklin to maintain the level of service at the library while reducing costs, as well as a change in book vendors.

But next year’s budget is expected to include an additional $7,000 for maintenance contracts, regular expenses the library already carries and pays out that had not previously been included in the budget.

Also eyed for inclusion in the budget is an additional $29,000 to cover the cost of hiring two part-time library clerks to ensure compliance with the conditions of a state grant the library was awarded in 2015.

The $500,000 Empire State Development Grant awarded to the library ahead of the renovation of the historic Carnegie building at 58 E. Fulton St. obligated the library to meet and maintain certain staffing levels set by the state based in part on the library’s staffing levels at that time and on the square footage of the building.

Acklin noted that the library met the staffing conditions when former library Director Barbara Madonna first applied for the grant, but due to subsequent staff retirements and departures the library is currently short by one full-time equivalent staff member.

The library may be required to repay the grant funding if staffing requirements are not met, meaning the library must hire either one full-time or two part-time staff members before 2022. Acklin pointed to the latter option as being more “fiscally prudent.”

“These do have to be permanent positions,” said Acklin.

The Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a motion to create two additional part-time library clerks working a minimum of 17.5 hours a week, allowing Acklin to begin working with the Department of Civil Service to fill the positions, a process that can sometimes take up to a year.

Anticipating the increase in expenses next year, Niforos indicated that a tax levy increase will likely be needed in the 2021-22 library budget. Voters in 2019 most recently approved a $30,000 tax levy increase that brought the tax rate up to a total of approximately $0.66 per $1,000 of assessed property value with the total levy at $453,695.

The previous $30,000 tax levy increase raised the tax rate by roughly $0.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value or approximately $5 per year for a home assessed at $100,000.

While certain calculations required by the state that will inform the final budget proposal and tax levy cannot be completed until the beginning of next year, the Board of Trustees took the procedural step of approving a motion that will allow the library to exceed the state imposed tax cap if necessary.

Trustee Christine Pesses noted that if the tax levy ultimately does not exceed the tax cap then the board will rescind the motion when the final budget is adopted in February.

“We don’t know yet what the budget is, we don’t know yet if we’re going to go over the stipulated amount because they don’t allow us to figure that out until the end of January, early February. We have to pass that so that we can continue to work on our budget and then if we go over, we’re covered,” said Pesses.

If the finalized 2021-21 library budget adopted by the Board of Trustees ultimately includes a tax levy increase, then the budget will be sent out to voters within the boundaries of the Gloversville Enlarged School District for possible approval in May.

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