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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 20, 2010
Library’s $3M budget supported
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND Even in tough times, the library was strongly supported by voters as 59 percent on Tuesday cast their ballots for next year’s $3.45 million budget.
No library budget has been defeated in the public library’s 22-year history. The vote this year was 2,250 to 1,567.
“I’m very pleased the community values the library,” said Barbara Nichols Randall, the library’s director, yesterday. “We really do try to provide the services the community wants.”
Guilderland residents next year will pay an estimated nine cents more per $1,000 of assessed valuation for a total of $1.06 so a resident with a $200,000 home would pay $212 in library taxes next year.
Next year’s library budget is up about 10 percent from this year as the library trustees held the line on most spending but added $125,000 to pay for a design for an addition.
In 2008, the trustees had unanimously supported plans to renovate the library and nearly double its size, at an estimated cost of $11 million to $12 million. Library use has steadily increased since the Western Avenue facility was built in 1995.
The trustees halted their plans because of the recession but this year included enough money in the budget to come up with a design that would allow for grant applications. Any addition would still be subject to public vote.
Mark Grimm, a Guilderland councilman, and Karen Boiko spoke out against the $125,000 expenditure at a public hearing on the budget.
As the trustees worked on the budget, Nichols Randall said yesterday, they were well aware of the effects of the recession on Guilderland, particularly since so many state workers live in town. “If state employees lose a day’s wage every week or are laid off, that is hard,” she said. “The board finally decided the best thing was to go to the voters. We don’t want to not look towards the future.
“The voters are the final decision-makers,” she said, reading Tuesday’s vote as a referendum on going forward with the schematic design for the library’s expansion.
Three candidates filed paperwork to get on the ballot for trustee, and a fourth launched a write-in campaign:
Chris Aldrich, a lawyer making his first run for the board, got the most votes 2,357. He said during the campaign of the $125,00 for designing an addition, “I don’t think it’s a great time to build but it’s a good time to find out how to proceed with an addition.”;
Brian Hartson, a trustee for eight years has been president of the board since 2007 and was vice president for two years before that. He is retired from a career at the state’s labor department. Hartson came in second with 2,278 votes, and called his work for the board “a labor of love”;
Robert Feller, a lawyer who was appointed to fill a board vacancy in January, came in third with 2,240 votes. He backed the $125,000 to design an addition and said during the campaign, “People use the library more in a recession because it’s free…I go to the library a lot and see how crowded it is. I want to make sure people continue to have this resource and that it continues to grow”;
Steve Wacksman came in fourth with 23 write-in votes. He has worked for the Capital District Transit Authority for 16 years and is the manager of technical training for CDTA. After helping his wife, Kathy Burbank, the director of the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce, with volunteer work, Wacksman said, “I’ve been looking to get more involved in the community.” His family enjoys using the Guilderland library, he said.
Ten other people received one or two write-in votes.
Aldrich and Hartson, as the top two vote-getters, will each serve five-year terms. Feller, as the third-place finisher will serve a four-year term, and Wacksman will fill the remaining three-year term.