The Block Island Times

No pressing need for paid part-timer at library

Baumann submits first budget
By Judy Tierney | Mar 04, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis

Library Director Kristin Baumann said this week at the Island Free Library Trustees meeting that she sees no need at this time to fund a part-time paid position in order for the library to continue its limited Sunday schedule.

Baumann made her position known during a discussion of a draft operating budget for fiscal year 2014 on Tuesday, a discussion that focused on some of the larger costs of running the facility, including wages, maintenance and electricity costs.

Baumann told the trustees that Town Finance Director Amy Land had advised her “to put in the true costs to run the building,” and Baumann said she had done so.

Wages and benefits were at the top of the spreadsheet Baumann distributed. She included the proposed salary of an additional part-time person — a position that was cut from the fiscal year 2011 budget and that also initially resulted in the elimination of Sunday hours. Those hours were subsequently reinstated from January through April with the help of volunteers and one staff person.

Trustee Bill McKernan reiterated what had been the belief at that time of the cut. “We determined we need [the position] to run successfully,” but Baumann said, “I’m on the other side of that. The library runs successfully with the Friends volunteers.”

She said she did not have a pressing need for the extra paid position.

Baumann elaborated on her position, reporting that Sundays worked out well this year and she was pleased with the staff’s and the Friends’ efforts. The library is “quiet on Sundays,” she said, with a small group of regulars who use the facility. Though the original plan was to have the library open on Sunday from September through June, when school is in session, Baumann felt the community was satisfied with the current schedule. “I don’t hear people saying have more,” Baumann told the Trustees. Working with the volunteers has also been a good experience, she added.

Taking the part-time position out of wages and benefits would free up more money for maintenance,” Trustee Charlotte Herring said. Baumann agreed, but also noted that the staff hasn’t had a raise in three years.

Wages for personnel, other than Baumann, were reset at $122,163, which is $24,000 less than it would have been if the extra person was included. Benefits dropped to $95,000 from $100,000.

Electricity continues to be a major cost. Though electricity was budgeted at $43,000 for the current fiscal year, looking over expenses to date, Herring said it would probably come in at $46,000 and should be budgeted for that amount in 2014. Trustee John Warfel suggested exploring the use of LED lights instead of fluorescents. Baumann was supportive of this move, saying the fluorescents were not long-lived and are expensive to replace. Warfel estimated that the LEDs “would knock 10 percent off the bill” and could last 10 years. He offered to check the fixtures to see if they could accommodate LED lights.

Advising Baumann that laptop computers utilize less power than desktops, he asked if she could foresee the number of library desktops dropping. Bauman replied that she does and has already packed up some of desktops.

Maintenance was initially budgeted at $46,000, but after discussion the expense was adjusted down to $40,000. Baumann has several large projects in mind. The building trim needs painting and shingles need replacement, a cost she estimated at $5,000. She also noted the HVAC needs ongoing maintenance, which she estimated at $5,000 this year. There is a leak in the back wall, and the thought is to remove windows to find it.

Trustee Jan Miller, MD, noted the figure is twice that of this year’s expenditure. Baumann said a lift or other equipment will be needed to do the painting. McKernan noted that the improvements previously made to the HVAC system have improved the humidity and temperature in the library.

The ever-problematic elevator has its own line in the budget, under equipment maintenance. Repairs usually total $3,000 annually, but Baumann said there would be an increase to a total of $6,000 this year. She and McKernan met with a technician for Eagle Elevators recently to discuss the problems. The technician suggested that the elevator receive quarterly maintenance, Baumann said, and that rather than replacing the 10-year old utility, the Trustees might consider a modernization program that would replace the electronic components, relays and controls. The technician also said the elevator’s box and hoist are in good condition and not in need of replacement. McKernan said he would like to get an estimate on the modernization program.

Reflecting on the elevator’s problems, Baumann offered the thought that perhaps $3,000 a year was the true cost of maintaining an elevator, and a new one might continue to have similar expenses. The library spent $27,000 on repairs between 2005 and 2013. She added that she is in consultation with school personnel, who also are looking at replacing their elevator.

After the trustees voted to approve the operating budget, they tackled the fiscal year 2014 capitol budget. Baumann reported that the Planning Board included two of their four requests in the budget sent to the town council: $25,000 to complete HVAC work, and $15,000 for front door and two book return renovations required by the state of Rhode Island. Carpet replacements were slotted in for the 2015 budget, and elevator replacement, at $150,000, five years out.

In other business, the Treasurer’s report included a full accounting from Baumann of this year’s petty cash intake and expenses. The library’s endowment grew to $173,000, up 10 percent.

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