The Wyandanch Public Library has proposed a 2% tax hike for residents...

The Wyandanch Public Library has proposed a 2% tax hike for residents in a more than $2.1 million spending plan for 2024 to 2025. Credit: Tom Lambui

The Wyandanch Public Library has proposed a 2% tax hike for residents in an annual budget that includes more spending on legal fees and utilities.

The more than $2.1 million spending plan for 2024-2025 is $11,000 less than the library’s last budget. Library officials said the tax increase for property owners would translate into $21.77 per $100 of assessed value.

Library board trustees are holding a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the facility to present the proposed budget to the public. Residents will go to the polls April 16 to vote on whether to approve it and to elect candidates running for two trustee seats.

The library recently faced the threat of losing its public funding after failing to meet state minimum standards. But a state education spokesman said last month the library is "making progress" toward those meeting those standards.

Compared to the last budget, legal fees would increase by $4,000 to $14,000, and utility costs would increase by $3,300 to $87,441.

Library director Lambert Shell said the projected legal fee increase is related to paying the library’s general counsel, Shawn Cullinane, and not to funding outside attorneys representing the library in a lawsuit involving former head janitor Kwaisi McCorvey.

Library board members fired McCorvey last month, nearly six months after his guilty plea to raping a 16-year-old in North Amityville in 2016. That victim has alleged McCorvey had sexual encounters with her in the library from 2016 to 2018 that started when she was 16. 

Her attorney filed a $30 million notice of claim against the library in July, and said he filed a lawsuit — which is sealed — in September. Library officials haven't commented on the litigation.

But the facility has spent more than $20,000 on it, Newsday reported last month. That money is coming from the library’s reserve fund, which has more than $2 million in it, Shell said.

More than half of the library’s proposed budget is dedicated to salaries, with $1.1 million budgeted — $17,000 less than the last budget. Shell said there were resignations and existing staff absorbed other jobs.

The second biggest budget line is $130,000 for insurance. The next largest chunks of spending are for utilities, then employee Social Security and Medicare costs at $86,560 and programming at $75,000.

This is first time in at least a decade the library has released a line-item budget proposal to the public.  Library officials posted it on the facility's Facebook page and will mail it to residents, Shell said.  

The library has drawn criticism in the past for its spending, including for tens of thousands of dollars spent on storage units and for failing to track trustee credit cards. 

“We’re trying to give people a true accounting of what their money is being spent on,” Shell said. 

Two trustee seats are up for election. Board president Katrina Crawford, 44, is running unopposed for another five-year, unpaid term. Laurie Farber, 69, and Safaa Ata, 48, are competing for the one year left in the term of former board president Jordan Thomas, who resigned in July.

 Farber, who runs the environmental nonprofit Starflower Experiences, said she hopes to continue what she sees as recent library operation improvements.

Ata, a Wyandanch school district substitute teacher, said she wants to improve the library’s resources and be a link between the library and the community.  

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