Draft Library Budget Shows a $3,000 Increase

HAMPSTEAD – The bottom line thus far for the Hampstead Public Library draft budget shows the day-to-day cost of running the library at approximately $3,000 more than the current year.
The Library Trustees reviewed the proposed Trustees Budget presented by Library Director Debra Hiett on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The increase in the proposed budget is largely driven by one item that is not under the library’s control.
The state library’s fee for downloadable e-books and audio-books, a service that is heavily used by Hampstead Public Library patrons, has been increased by $1,100. Beyond that, library contracts, building contracts and costs associated with electronic materials have also increased. Most of the increases stem at least in part from improvements and upgrades.
“There is nothing in this budget that falls into the ‘want’ category,” said Trustee Aileen Wall. “Everything is necessary. There isn’t any fat we can trim out without reducing services for patrons.”
The Library Trustees plan to ask for a warrant article in the amount of $10,000 to be added to the $1,000 that remains in the Library’s Non-Capital Building Reserve Fund. The library has been able to pay for replacing the roof and for two new, oil-driven heating system boilers from that fund.
Looking ahead, the first floor carpet is reaching end-of-life status and will soon become a safety hazard that will have to be replaced. The carpet is 20 years old and the seams are beginning to show wear. The hope is that the carpet will last until 2015, when close to enough money would be available in the reserve fund if the warrant articles were approved.
The majority of the budget lines were level funded. Several were cut last year and Hiett said she couldn’t recommend further reductions.
Falling into that category is the equipment line. Previously six computers were contemplated for replacement, but that number was reduced to three last year. The plan is to replace three more this year. Some equipment upgrades, such as the printer that now can be used as a scanner as well, have seen increases in contract and support costs. In addition, the anti-virus software program, a three-year contract, comes due this year.
Program costs were level funded, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions showed a minimal increase. Both newspapers and magazines were culled for those not used frequently last year. The biggest increase comes from USA Today, which jumped almost $100.
The cost figures for utilities and heating oil were level funded using 2012 numbers, as were health insurance and other insurance costs, as the 2013-2014 figures are not available until later on in the fall.
Library staff salaries are expected to be increased by a Cost-of-Living assessment and step increases. No figures were provided.
The draft budget goes before the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday, Oct. 9, after the Tri-Town Times goes to press.

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