Local Libraries Budgeting for the Books

The newly renovated and expanded John Jermain Memorial Library. Michael Heller photo
The newly renovated and expanded John Jermain Memorial Library. Michael Heller photo
The newly renovated and expanded John Jermain Memorial Library. Michael Heller photo

By Douglas Feiden

Catherine Creedon has been calculating income and expenses as part of the budget-writing process for the John Jermain Memorial Library ever since she became director in 2007.

By some measures, she says, the proposed spending plan for 2017 is the “most interesting budget I’ve ever had to draft in all my years here.”

Why? “Because we don’t know what the demands of the new building will be at this point,” Ms. Creedon explains.

Voters in the Sag Harbor Union Free School District on September 29 will be asked to cast a yes-or-no vote — to approve or nix — the library’s total budget of $2.596 million, which includes debt service of $905,000 from the referendum approved in 2009 to fund the expansion.

The proposed operating budget, after debt service is subtracted from the tally, is $1.691 million, an increase of about $112,000 from the $1.579 million spent on operations in 2016. That uptick is a tad smaller than last year’s $136,000 hike, Ms. Creedon said.

An institution’s priorities can be discerned in its budgetary line items. And at John Jermain, that means disbursements for “library materials and programs,” which soared from $126,940 in the current year to a proposed $162,160 in 2017.

The figure, reflecting additional library programming and an increase in children’s book purchases, was an “intentional decision,” the director says.

“We have a dedicated children’s room for the first time in our history, and we know children who start reading young end up reading for life. We’ll keep our other expense as low as we can, but we really want to make a commitment to new programing and materials.”

In addition to the up-or-down budget balloting, voters will select three trustees, who are running unopposed, in the election, held in the library at 201 Main Street from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Current trustees Nick Gazzolo and Alison Bond, who are each finishing their first three-year terms, are seeking reelection.

Mr. Gazzolo is the library’s president and treasurer of the Sag Harbor Partnership, while the British-born Ms. Bond was a longtime Sag Harbor Historical Society trustee who edited Dorothy Zaykowski’s “Sag Harbor: The Story of an American Beauty.”

Linley Pennebaker Hagen, who is completing a second term, isn’t eligible to run again because of terms limits, creating a vacancy.

The new face on the board will be Dan Glass, a parts manager at Kalbacher’s Auto Shop in Springs and a resident since 1997, who has patronized libraries all his life. In fact, his mother Karen is head librarian at the Keene Valley Library upstate.

“The library was right down the street from me, and I would hang out there on Saturdays when I was a kid,” Mr. Glass recalls.

Meanwhile, the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton holds its budget vote on September 24, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 2478 Main Street.

The proposed $1.667 million budget for 2017, which includes $560,000 in debt service, is up a mere $30,983 from the current year. The tab for operating expenses is $1.1267 million, with $656,100 coming from Bridgehampton taxpayers and $451,000 from Sagaponack.

Incumbent trustees Sandra Ferguson and Matthew Rojano, representing Bridgehampton, are each standing for reelection, and there are two available seats for Sagaponack residents, but so far, nominating petitions haven’t been received, said Library Director Kelly Harris. The deadline: September 1 at 5 p.m.