New building referendum not on the ballot

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WARWICK-Residents within the Warwick Valley Central School District will go to the polls Tuesday, April 5, to decide whether to approve the proposed $780,765 operating budget for the Albert Wisner Public Library. What does that means to your pocketbook? Residents of the Warwick Valley School District would see a 45 cent increase in the tax rate to $1.98 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Warwick's assessment rate is about one quarter of full value so a homeowner whose house is valued at $400,000 would pay $198 in library tax. In Chester, where the assessment rate is at full value, a homeowner would see a 10 cent increase in the tax rate to 48 cents per $1,000. The proposed $780,765 spending plan is more than a 23 percent increase over the 2004-05 budget of $635,067. The biggest difference: a pre-referendum expense of $65,000. The library will hold a separate referendum for the construction of a new library, which has not yet been scheduled but may happen as early as September. However, the costs related to presenting a referendum to the public include engineering, architectural, legal and accounting work and are included in the $65,000 item. Library Director Rosemary Cooper said the library has received a $50,000 grant in the previous two budget years, courtesy of state Sen. Thomas Morahan and the state for the purpose of planning for the new facility. She said she can't expect that year after year either. The library board presented the proposal for a new library to the public in January. It is a 27,000-square foot building on 2.2 acres of donated land off Forester Avenue. The cost is estimated at between $7.5 million and $8.5 million that would be bonded over 30 years. That's a necessary step, according to Cooper, who said Warwick's 5,000-square foot building is servicing 22,000 residents. By contrast, Greenwood Lake's library is about the same size and services 6,000 residents. Publicity and postage are slated to go up, also related to the proposed referendum. The postage budget, $6,000 in 2004/05, will increase 50 percent, adding $3,000. The publicity budget is increasing by two thirds, up to $15,000 from $9,000 last year. "We hope to expand our newsletter to six pages and publish more information regarding our new building plans," said Cooper. Salaries are up 3.25 percent for the 14 full-time employees of the library. Additional funding has been included for clerical assistance in the children's area and to process new materials and maintain the library's collection. This is the first addition to the library staff in over five years. And many of those employees are participating in the library's health plan. The cost for medical insurance is going up nearly 37 percent to $9,250. The budget tows the line on several items, including copy machine expenses, building maintenance and repairs, retirement, workers compensation, unemployment, disability and supplies. Aside from the money to prepare for the referendum and the additional clerk, the remainder of the budget is pretty much just increases in costs, Cooper said. Voters will also elect two trustees to serve five-year terms. Incumbents Anthony Lampazzi and Joan Noonan are running unopposed. There are seven library board members in all. As in any public budget, the library board held public meetings and a public hearing earlier this month. Cooper said she hopes people understand that the library has been "woefully underfunded" for years and, in order to provide the service necessary in the community, these increases are necessary. "A lot of people recognize the situation we are in and realize we're making a good faith effort here," Cooper said. "To continue to grow and meet the needs of the community, we need to have the proper funding. Otherwise, something has to go, whether it is books or hours, something will have to go." Voting is held at the library on the corner of Colonial Avenue and Main Street, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.