(Oneida, NY – March 2013) After a successful 2012, with increases in patronage and circulation, Oneida Public Library goes to the voters in the library’s Special District on March 5 with a proposed budget for its fiscal year 2013-14 and a slate of candidates running for three seats on the library’s Board of Trustees.
Current trustees Patricia Albaugh and Robert Wilkins are seeking re-election, while Lillian White is in the running for the seat being vacated by George Miller.
On the March 5 ballot, the OPL board proposes an overall increase in the library’s operating budget of 2.36 percent for a total of $375,872. Of this, the proposed library tax levy is $326,872, an increase of 2.56 percent, which is within the limits set by New York State’s tax cap legislation.
“The proposed library tax on property in the city of Oneida valued at $100,000 would be about $44.55, a total increase of about $1.05 over this year’s library tax,” said Albaugh, who serves now as the OPL Board’s vice president.
Of the proposed budget, $49,000 or 13 percent is expected to be garnered from public and private funding, individual donations and library fees. Not included in the proposed operating budget is funding for special programming and the OPL’s adult literacy services, both of which depend on grants from private foundations for support.
“Staying within the tax cap was our number one budget priority for our upcoming fiscal year,” said Carolyn Gerakopoulos, OPL director. “However, we are facing some real concerns this year in regards to the uncertainty of future Madison County funding and Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $8.75 in July 2013. We are carefully planning ahead for these possibilities.
“Madison County funding is essential,” she added, “as it provides the dollars necessary to cover the cost of providing library materials and technology to those patrons who don’t reside within our chartered service area and do not have a public library to serve them where they live. And any increase in the minimum wage mandated by the state government will affect our bottom line dramatically. Many of our staff members, who help our patrons day in and day out, now receive the current minimum wage.”
Serving a population of 15,202 in its state-chartered service area, the OPL has one of the lowest per capita cost ratios of any public library in the region with a comparable service area. The current OPL operating budget of $367,210 translates to $22.33 spent for each person in the OPL Special District. In comparison, the Sullivan Free Library, which serves the Town of Sullivan with a service population of 14,991, currently spends $35.05 per capita. The Canastota Public Library, serving 9,352 people, spends $35.07 per capita.
“Every year the library board faces the challenge of making the operating budget as spare and cost-efficient as possible while maintaining the high level of service that we expect of our community’s library,” said OPL Board President Eileen Kinsella. “The proposed budget for 2013-14 is really bare bones, with the tax levy increase needed just to cover a modest 1 percent staff salary increase, the rising costs of building maintenance and items that we have no control over like employer-paid Social Security tax.
“Voters and community members in general should know,” she emphasized, “that every penny in this budget will be spent on keeping the library open and running. It has nothing to do with the ongoing Capital Campaign aimed at raising funds for the new library facility on Main Street.”
In 2012, the OPL had an attendance of 78,345 individual visits, a total circulation of all materials of 90,692 items and 891 library and community program sessions with a total attendance of 10,018 people. By year’s end, the OPL had 13,922 current registered borrowers with OPL library cards.
The Oneida Library Special District, established by the state legislature in 1996 and confirmed by a voter referendum in 1997, is co-extensive with the Oneida City School District. It covers the city of Oneida, Oneida Castle, Durhamville, Wampsville, most of Sylvan Beach and sectors of the town of Verona. The library’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.
Registered voters in the Library District can cast their ballots for the budget vote and the election of officers to the board March 5, between the hours of noon and 9 p.m., in the OPL’s Meeting Room, 220 Broad St., Oneida. If voters will not be in town that day, they can get an application for receiving an absentee ballot in the mail from the OPL director, Carolyn Gerakopoulos, or by calling her at the library, 363-3050.
Candidates Seek Work on the OPL Board
Three Oneida City residents seek to win places on the Oneida Public Library Board of Trustees when registered voters in the Library District go to the poll at the OPL on March 5 from noon to 9 p.m.: Patricia Albaugh, Lillian White and Robert (Bob) Wilkins.
Patricia Albaugh, who retired from the Oneida City School District in 2007 after 32 years of teaching sixth grade at the Oneida Castle School, is seeking her fourth consecutive five-year term on the OPL board, on which she currently serves as vice-president. After almost 15 years of service, four of which she served as board president (2000-04), Albaugh reports that she still enjoys her work on the board as her way of contributing to community.
“I am proud to be part of the Oneida Public Library,” Albaugh said, “and I’m eager to continue helping to lead it into the future.”
In particular, Albaugh is excited about working on the board at a time when it is endeavoring to build a new library.
“I am happy to be involved in such a worthy and important project that will benefit the entire OPL service area,” she said.
Bob Wilkins, who is seeking election to a second term on the board, also believes a new and improved Oneida Public Library would expand opportunities for education and enrichment for the entire community.
“I believe strongly in the value of an active library as part of the health of the community,” Wilkins said. “I see the increasing importance of a library as a community center where people can share ideas and also come to have some quiet time.”
In two areas, Wilkins would like to see the OPL expand its services: adult literacy tutoring for more people and access to eBooks, particularly for people who cannot afford reading devices.
Wilkins and his wife Gloria moved to Oneida in 1970. He retired as a school counselor in the Rome Schools in 1999 after 30 years there and then opened up his own computer technician business.
A more recent arrival, Lillian White moved from New York City to Oneida with her husband Jeffrey and their son Philip in the summer of 2009.
“We were ready for a change in our lives and made the decision to move to Oneida for my husband’s work and to be close to family,” White said.
White was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island. After attending Briarcliff College, she started her career in an accounting department at a Time Warner subsidiary. A few years later, she began working at JP Morgan Chase & Co., N.Y.C., and eventually became an executive director at the bank. After 26 years with JPMorgan Chase, she retired in order to devote herself to her family in Oneida.
White decided to run for the OPL board seat being vacated by George Miller because “the library is such a vital part of the community. And with the new Library Project in the works, it is an exciting time. I hope my banking experience and knowledge will be beneficial to the Oneida Public Library.”
Those elected March 5 to be OPL trustees will serve five-year terms, starting July 1, 2013. The OPL board currently consists of Patricia Albaugh (vice-president), Jim Bacher, Charles Chambers, Eileen Kinsella (president), George Miller (treasurer), Diane Roy (secretary) and Bob Wilkins.