Four for Three Seats on Library Board

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John Jermain Memorial Library Sag Harbor
The John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor. Michael Heller photo

Four people filed nominating forms by the deadline last Friday, August 24, to run for the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees in the library election and budget vote set for next month.

Sag Harbor School District voters will go to the polling place at the library at 201 Main Street on Thursday, September 27, to fill three seats on the eight-person board, the current occupants of which will be completing their three-year terms on December 31. One seat is vacant because of a resignation earlier this year.

Voters also will be asked to approve a proposed 2019 library budget that will slightly decrease the current tax bill for property owners even though spending will increase to $2.857 million, up 3.8 percent in the amount to be raised by taxes compared to the current year’s spending plan.

Susan Edwards is the only incumbent seeking reelection to the board. Board members Craig Rhodes will not seek reelection and Carol Hance resigned on June 30.

In addition to Ms. Edwards, the candidates who filed nominating forms last week, according to library director Catherine Creedon, are Ann Sutphen, who served on the board from 2015 through 2017 and narrowly lost her reelection bid; Nick Knab, a graduate of Pierson High School who is enrolled at Suffolk County Community College; and Elliot Sroka, a patron of the library.

Mr. Creedon said the board, working with her and the library staff, was able to develop a budget proposal for 2019 “with a nominal decrease of 35 cents to the average taxpayer” who owns a home assessed at $1 million. She said changes in the “assessment structure” of the Sag Harbor School District, which supports the library budget with a taxpayer-funded stipend, and “our commitment to fund-raising,” had allowed for the slight decrease.

If the budget is approved, the school district will raise a total of $1,886,721 in tax revenues to support operations in 2019 and $905,000 to pay for servicing the debt on the library’s $16-million expansion project that was completed in 2016, $10 million of which was funded through a successful bond referendum in 2009. The remaining funding for the expansion was paid for through private donations. Another $64,890 for the 2019 budget will be raised through fundraising and grants.

Proposed disbursements for 2019 include $995,553 for salaries, up 2.6 percent; $435,800 for employee benefits and payroll taxes, up 63 percent; $169,380 for library materials and programs, up 23 percent; $185,478 for administrative costs and office expenses, down 3.7 percent; and $165,400 for building and grounds maintenance, down 27 percent.

The school district has projected the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation to support the budget as $.3642 for properties in the Southampton Town part of the district and $61.0648 with an equalization rate of .57 percent in the East Hampton portion of the district or an effective rate of $.348 per $1000.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”