Library board ‘fiscally conservative’

Deborah Mercer, library board president
    The board of trustees of the Lambertville Public Library holds meetings at 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month in the community room.
   By law, the meetings have been and will continue to be open to the public.
   Matters concerning library governance are discussed openly. In the interim, patrons and members of the public may also direct comments or questions regarding daily operations of the library to the director.
   The annual allocation of funds to the library includes, but is not limited, to state aid and a sum raised as part of property taxes, which are assessed and collected by the city.
   In anticipation of the allocation prescribed by law, the director prepares the annual operating budget for the library for review and approval by the board. The overall budget includes costs for personnel and other operating expenses such as books, programming and information technology.
   In addition, the city charges the library for insurance, maintenance and utilities.
   Historically, the board members have been fiscally conservative. Major purchases such as painting, carpeting and computer equipment have been made incrementally and not on a grand scale. That practice will continue.
   Until several years ago, there was no library surplus since property values were lower than in recent years. When housing values increased, the library’s annual allocation increased.
   To ensure complete and timely payments to libraries, municipalities are now required to transfer the entire annual allocation on a quarterly basis.
   While the board intends to continue the tradition of being conservative in fiscal matters, the board is making a concerted effort to work with the mayor and council to identify reasonable costs to be charged by the city and borne by the library.
   Board members have identified a number of options, which are under consideration by the city. In addition, the board has offered to return a portion of the current surplus by exercising the option, which is now available under the new Moriarty Bill.
   The board has worked in good faith with the mayor and council to preserve this wonderful public resource that we can walk to and which is well- used by and the pride of many Lambertville residents.
   If the referendum passes, the city will be required to join the county library. This will cost all Lambertville taxpayers approximately $90 per year more in taxes, whether or not they use library services.
   Right now, residents push strollers, ride bikes and walk to the library. They don’t need to spend money on gas or own a car or find a ride.
   We are pleased that our mayor has said that he wants to keep the library in Lambertville. We will make every effort to work within regulations to find reasonable ways to pay the library’s share for services and transfer a portion of surplus funds to the city.
   While we are excited about the many recent enhancements to the book collection, online catalog, computer access and the renowned programming, we continue to be open to constructive suggestions.
Deborah Mercer
board of trustees
Lambertville Public Library