Press-Republican

Tuesday

December 10, 2013

City council restores some library funding

PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors have restored some funding to the Plattsburgh City Library budget for now.

The 2014 budget plan presented Oct. 1 by Mayor Donald Kasprzak had slated $751,000 for the library, which is $120,000 short of what it received for this year.

At a recent budget meeting, councilors and councilors-elect expressed concern that the library would be underfunded.

Councilor-elect Rachelle Armstrong said that if at least half of the $120,000 were not restored, it could affect the library's ability to pay its employees under the union contract they have with the city.

"I would also like to have more information about what operations at the library that other $60,000 is needed for," she said.

'UNCOMFORTABLE'

Councilor and Mayor-elect James Calnon said that restoring the library's funding would drastically cut into the city's general fund balance, which he said is already dangerously low.

It would also leave the library budget with a higher fund-balance percentage than the city's general-fund balance.

"I'm uncomfortable with that," he said.

Library Director Anne de la Chappelle said that about $500,000 of the library's budget goes for salaries. The rest of the funding goes for programs and maintenance of the building.

"There just aren't a lot of things to cut," she said.

Councilor-elect Becky Kasper said she wanted to restore at least $60,000 and consider adding more.

AT TAX CAP

The outgoing council has been working on the budget since the mayor presented it. It does not have to be approved until Jan. 15, 2014.

The new councilors take office on Jan. 1, and the Common Council will probably vote on the budget at the Jan. 9 meeting, Calnon said.

"The new council can make changes to the budget, but any increases in spending without corresponding savings or revenues could mean they will flirt with exceeding the tax cap," he said.

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