BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK— On Thursday, September 17, residents kept the long-held green light streak going when they voted and approved the $4.2 million 2016 budget for the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library by a vote of 622 to 95.
“It’s our entire operating budget,” Director of the library Alex Gutelius said. “We are a service organization essentially, providing library services so a lot of it is staffing costs—we are open 70 hours a week—and we have a fairly large building. It includes a salary increase for staff as well as additional expenditures for materials.”
Last year’s levy was $3,975.021 and the total expenditure was $4,099,827; it was approved by a vote 729 to 126.
When asked why the approval seemed to happen in effortless fashion Gutelius said: “I think that the fact that the staff are here almost 365 days a year and that they are providing great service that the public appreciates. I don’t think that’s it’s effortless, I think it’s hard work that the staff put in everyday throughout the year.”
The library has some new things in store for 2016. “The board is going into a long-range planning process so we are looking at that and what the impacts and the future services are for the library,”Gutelius said. “How are we going to makes changes in the services that we deliver? What changes we might make or won’t make? And also the changing use of the building. People are using the building differently so we are looking at how we can make adjustments to our physical plan and the services that we deliver to help the public use the library services the best way that the community needs.”
The library brings a fair share of benefits to the area. “The great thing about the library is that anyone can walk through the door and use our services,” Gutelius said. “We have an average of 1,000 people come through the door per day. We are really a community resource, free and open to the public.”
She continued: “I think that the staff members here are phenomenal,”Gutelius said. “It’s a good place to work and that’s reflected in the services we provide.”
Some residents may be concerned that the approved budget will have a negative impact on their taxes, but—according to Gutelius—for homes the same market value, the taxes should be the same as 2015. “What we are able to take advantage of here is growth in the town; as the town’s tax space grows a little bit, we can increase our budget without unduly impacting existing tax payers,”Gutelius said. “It’s a complicated issue because the equalization rate changes in Halfmoon so that makes the tax rate change, but we worked to develop a budget that would be responsive to the community in the sense that we are trying to improve and increase the services that we are offering while at the same time recognize that it is a tax burden and we want to be sensitive to taxpayers.”