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Wyandanch Public Library, its building still closed, pitches a tax freeze

The Wyandanch Public Library.

The Wyandanch Public Library. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The Wyandanch Public Library, which is the only library on Long Island not to have resumed services from its building since the pandemic, is proposing a freeze on taxes.

The tentative $1.95 million 2021-22 budget offers a zero increase in taxes and takes into account a continued closure, along with anticipated work on the building’s HVAC system. Board president Ghenya Grant said it has been necessary to keep the building closed due to insufficient air flow, a problem that predates the pandemic.

An engineer from Savin Engineers of Hauppauge, which was hired to evaluate the system, said he would not recommend using the building for community gatherings but wouldn’t say "that people don't go into the building" at all. The library offers virtual and outdoor programming, and uses the county’s SLED library RV for some services twice a month, but it has not started curbside service.

"We wanted to be sure that we were fair to the community," Grant said at a budget meeting April 14, during which trustees unveiled the proposed budget outline. The library did not present a line item budget.

The outline shows an increase for library operations, which includes maintenance and repairs, from $372,060 to $577,031. Fixed administrative expenses, which includes legal and insurance costs, also would rise, from $266,500 to $278,500.

Because the library’s programming is almost all virtual, the library’s materials and programming costs would drop from $149,500 to $110,947. Staffing costs also would decrease, from $967,088 to $773,670.

The library has not furloughed any employees and has continued to pay its staff the same salaries since it closed in March of last year. A report filed to the state in 2019 showed the library had 32 paid staff members. The $193,418 reduction in payroll came from employees not working more than their allotted hours and no overtime being issued, said the library’s accountant Harry Meyer.

"Right now you’re not carrying overtime costs … part-timers are not working any more than 20 hours per week, so you’re not carrying the same level of costs when the library was open," Meyer said.

Library trustees didn't say what residents would pay under the proposed budget, but under the current one, the average homeowner paid $709 in library taxes, according to Babylon Town officials.

A budget information meeting will be held on Zoom on May 12 at 7 p.m. There also is one trustee seat up for election. Nominating petitions must be submitted to the library by Monday at 5 p.m.

The library will be the last one in Suffolk to hold its budget vote for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The library budget and trustee election is slated for May 25 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish Hall.

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