By Sara-Megan Walsh
The Smithtown Library patrons have given their seal of approval to the proposed 2018 plans of library officials while electing a new face to the board.
Voters approved the $14.6 million 2018 Smithtown Library budget, by 798-241 votes, in the Oct. 10 election. Board trustees Louis Frontario and William Zimmerman were re-elected, but newcomer Brianna Baker-Stines edged out incumbent Rudy Zientarksi to take a seat.
“The Smithtown Library thanks the residents of Smithtown who came out in support of their library and we look forward to continuing to serve the reading, informational, cultural and entertainment needs of the community,” Robert Lusak, library director, said.
New trustee Baker-Stines, of Smithtown, works as an accounting assistant and has a master’s degree in business from Stony Brook University, according to her candidate profile on the library’s website. She previously worked as a reference clerk for the Hauppauge Public Library from 2012 to 2017.
Prior to being elected, Baker-Stines stated her goals were to promote and maintain the brand of the library, increase residents’ usage of the library and improve funding through advocacy.
“Libraries are currently changing in their meaning to communities,” she wrote in her candidate profile. “Instead of just being houses full of books, they are places to meet people and create things.”
The library’s 2018 budget has funding set aside to increase the number of hours at its four branches, increase programming, and maintain and improve its current facilities, according to Lusak.
More than $10.7 million of the library’s annual budget is set aside to cover employees’ salaries and benefits, with the approved budget containing a $150,000 increase over 2017.
Additional staffing will be required next year if a new pilot program offering extended hours on Friday nights continues to be successful, according to Lusak. Since Labor Day, the Smithtown branch has stayed open an additional three hours on Fridays, pushing back its closing time from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Based on patrons’ response, Lusak said he is leaning toward making a recommendation to library board trustees that all the other three branches — Commack, Kings Park and Nesconset — should stay open Friday nights starting in 2018.
The approved budget includes an additional $68,000 funding increase, for a total of $344,000, toward equipment and capital outlays. The funds will go toward ensuring updated computers and technological equipment is available at the library, according to treasurer Joanne Grove.
To better serve guests, Lusak said the 2018 budget contains funds for upgraded lighting and improved parking at the library’s four branches. The district also hopes to purchase a new generator as part of its emergency response plan.
The 2018 budget will result in a $6.40 increase, or $313.47 per year, for a homeowner with an assessed property value of $5,500. Residents looking to calculate library taxes on their home should divide their assessed value by $1,000, take the resulting number and multiply it by 56.994. Further video instructions can be found on the library district’s website at www.smithlib.org.