Library budgets going down, trustee race heating up

Library budgets going down, trustee race heating up

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Above, Chris McCrary is running for a spot on the Comsewogue library board. His opponent, Richard Evans, did not provide a photo to the library. File photo

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson readers will vote on their libraries’ budgets on April 5, as well as one board trustee.

Ali Gordon, the library board president in Comsewogue who also serves on the school board, is not running for another term and two candidates are vying for the library seat she will vacate at the end of June, following a seven-year stint on that board.

Richard Evans, 50, is running for the five-year seat because, “I would like to be of service to my community,” according to a candidate profile on the Comsewogue library website. He listed his occupation as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, saying that role has given him experience interacting with the public.

In addition, he said, “My experience as a computer forensic examiner gives me insight and growth of electronic media and its uses.”

He has lived in the district since 2011, and is an assistant coach with the Terryville Soccer Club.

Chris McCrary, 49, on the other hand, is running because, “Comsewogue Public Library has been a huge part of my life since I joined the summer reading club in 1971.”

According to his own candidate profile, the longtime resident and high school biology teacher wants to share his passion for reading and show kids “the tremendous resource they have in our own backyard.”

McCrary’s name may be familiar to some voters — in addition to coaching soccer and lacrosse in the area over the years, he has run a couple of times for the Comsewogue school board, albeit unsuccessfully.

Comsewogue budget

As residents vote for a trustee, they will also be asked to cast ballots for a proposed $5.4 million budget.

While that number represents a decrease from last year’s budget total, taxes would go up slightly, mainly because the library would pull less money from its reserves to fund the budget. According to a library brochure, the district is asking to collect 1 percent more in taxes in 2016-17 — a number significantly less than its state-mandated levy cap of 1.48 percent would allow.

If the budget passes, residents would pay almost $0.13 more for every $100 of their homes’ assessed values.

The library plans to spend more on its materials and programs next year and less on staffing and mandated expenses.

According to library Director Debbie Engelhardt, both library visits and overall circulation of library materials has increased since last year.

Port Jefferson budget

Over in Port Jefferson, the library is proposing a nearly $4.2 million budget, which also represents a decrease from the current year’s spending plan. In this library’s case, however, taxes would remain about the same in 2016-17.

According to a library brochure, Port Jefferson has seen savings from retirements. In addition, “a reasonable conclusion of collective bargaining negotiations also helps keep costs in line.”

One budget line that would increase is in programs, which would go up almost $18,000, while costs for books, audio and visual materials and periodicals would all decrease. The brochure said further movement toward cheaper digital formats has contributed to that shift.

If the budget is approved, each resident would pay about $12.54 for every $100 of a home’s assessed value.

Voting at the Comsewogue library on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station will take place on Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Polls will be open at the Port Jefferson library on Thompson Street from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.