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North Tonawanda Library budget vote set for April 1

Residents of North Tonawanda have a chance to vote on a $1.76 million North Tonawanda Public Library budget for 2015-2016 on Wednesday.

Voting will be from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the library, 505 Meadow Drive.

Voters must be over 18 and a resident in the North Tonawanda School District for at least 30 days. Identification with proof of residency is required.

Library Board President Paul Sikora is running unopposed for a five-year term on the board.

The Board of Trustees and Library Director Britt A. White have proposed a budget that is up $23,792, a little more than one percent over the 2014-2015 budget.

The library receives nearly 80 percent of its funding from North Tonawanda taxpayers, but also receives smaller amounts from Niagara County, Pendleton and Wheatfield. Library charges and local library aid also factor in the finances.

The library budget costs North Tonawanda homeowners $110 annually for a home valued at $99,500, which is an approximate $2 annual increase from the current year.

Equipment expenses are expected to increase in the proposed budget, rising from $8,000 in the current year to $12,000 in 2015-2016. The increase reflects a plan to allow better access to Wi-Fi in the library. Also, the library computers are being changed over from Windows XP.

Certified library staff expenses would increase by $46,289 due to increases in the minimum wage, which started in 2014. A part-time person in the children’s room has been converted to full time.

“By adding a full-time position in our children’s room it really allows us to do a lot more stuff. I think people will really see that when summer reading time comes around,” White said.

“We are looking at initiatives that will allow us to get out into parks and the farmer’s markets so there’s more of a library presence out in the community,” she said.

The proposed budget makes some cuts in library materials, including print and audiovisual materials. Some of this is restructuring of the account, but some of it is due to lowered costs, White said.

“The cost of things, especially DVDs and Blue Ray disks have gone way down,” she said. “Our AV collection is still the most heavily used of our collection, but we are seeing costs go down, especially with Blue Ray since there are many more machines that play them.”

She said a Blue Ray disc that was $30 six months ago is now available for $15. She said the library continues to purchase these items because they are more than 50 percent of the circulation.

“We want to put money where patrons want it and will use it,” said White.

“I feel very good about (the budget). I feel we have been very responsible about putting together a budget that really reflects the way that the community wants the library to be run,” White said.

She said the board has been able to put in some money for new landscaping.

“We are really paying attention to the whole experience of the library, from the visual experience to what people come to look for,” she said.

“Ideally, what we want to do is provide top-notch service,” White said. “We have a very supportive community in North Tonawanda and we are lucky to have that.”

White said the library is always looking for input.

“We can’t do our job the way we want to do it without public input,” she said.