As the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library continues to try and keep up with changing technology and introduce new services, its biggest expense is salaries and wages for the employees as the cost of benefits is increasing, according to Director Susan de Sciora.
“Our biggest challenge is trying to stay under the two percent tax cap and the major reason for that challenge is because of increased costs; not of employees’ salaries but of benefits,” de Sciora said. “There is some leveling off in the cost of retirement but we don’t know when.”
As of press time, de Sciora said she is anticipating two or three early retirements, and added that the library is equipped to handle those. “As people work, we put in funds into a reserve of what we believe they’ll be getting paid when they retire so it doesn’t result in a tax increase,” she said. “However, if someone decides to retire in the middle of the year, we can’t budget for that.”
The Hewlett-Woodmere Library’s 2013-’14 proposed budget is $6,239,089; an increase of $276,465 over the current budget of $5,962,624.
The tax levy cap, the amount of money to be raised by taxes, is going to be 1.99 percent, or $5,881,269, de Sciora said.
Library trustee and Woodmere resident Frank Zaret said the tax cap has strapped all Nassau County libraries, not just Hewlett-Woodmere. “We have to take the necessary steps to meet the state requirements,” he said. “We’re a very good library with people who are very interested in the library, whether it be fixing it up or doing things for it, and that’s helpful when developing a budget.”
Zaret added that since he became a trustee four years ago the library is continually changing. “We’re always trying to implement the latest technology and are always looking to expand,” he said. “Parking is our greatest problem and we don’t see it resolving anytime soon.”
The library began offering eBooks, downloadable books to Amazon Kindles, last year and according to de Sciora, that program has been a huge success. “The number of library patrons currently is the same as last year [nearly 16,000] and there are more and more people using the downloadable eBooks,” she said. “That program is still in its beginning stages but we still have patrons who would still rather take out a book.”