Comsewogue library proposes small budget increase

Comsewogue library proposes small budget increase

Port Jefferson Station resident unopposed for election

The Comsewogue library. File photo

Comsewogue library district residents can expect to pay a few dollars more in taxes next year, if voters approve the proposed 2015-16 budget.

The budget, which would total $5.58 million, represents a 2 percent increase over the current year’s spending plan, according to figures in the library’s community brochure. Despite the budget total, Port Jefferson Station and Terryville residents would only be funding about half of that amount in taxes, as the tax levy would just reach about $2.7 million.

In the spending plan, staff and mandated expenses would increase, but that would largely be due to the structure of the year — Library Director Debra Engelhardt said employees are paid biweekly and while that usually means 26 payroll cycles during the year, next year there will be an extra cycle. That extra payroll affects both the salary budget line and the lines for retirement, health care and other mandated costs.

Library material and program costs would slightly decrease next year.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been tracking our spending,” Engelhardt explained. In part by analyzing what sorts of materials residents request from Comsewogue and from other public libraries in the county — as the public libraries share their collections — library officials have “sort of honed the number” for that budget line.
Comsewogue’s budget for library materials decreased between last year and this year as well, and that was also through more efficient budgeting.

Corinne DeStefano is unopposed for a term on the library board of trustees. Photo from the candidate
Corinne DeStefano is unopposed for a term on the library board of trustees. Photo from the candidate

“We’ve just gradually been able to bring it down,” the library director said.

But all of the library’s programming will continue next year, and Engelhardt said the staff is even experimenting with different types of programs.

“I think people are going to see a little diversity” in the programs, she said.

Under the proposed budget, the tax rate would increase to about $12.43 for every $100 of assessed value. For the average home valued at $3,000 that translates to almost an $11 increase in library taxes for the year.

Voting is at the library on Terryville Road on Tuesday, April 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Those who hit the polls will also be able to cast a ballot for Port Jefferson Station resident Corinne DeStefano, who is running unopposed for a five-year term on the library board, to begin on July 1. She will take the place of former library board Vice President Chris Keegan, who recently resigned with just a few months left in his term because he moved out of the district.

DeStefano, who is married to Comsewogue school board trustee Robert DeStefano, has lived in the district her entire life. The couple has two kids, ages 6 and 2, and the wife works in quality assurance for software corporation CA Technologies.

“We think it’s important to give back” and make sure Port Jefferson Station “stays a great community,” she said.

DeStefano chose to focus on the library because it’s a place close to her heart, after growing up a few blocks away and walking there often with her mother to check out “massive amounts of books to read.”

“I’m interested in making sure that something I’ve always felt is really great … continues to evolve with the times and continues to be a great resource for the community.”