Tonawanda News — A small number of voters overwhelmingly approved the North Tonawanda Public Library budget Wednesday with a 214-40 edge in what amounts to a 2.44 percent increase.
The budget, approved at a total of $1.726 million, will raise the tax rate to $109 for every $117,000 of assessed property value.
Library Director Britt White said much of the rise, about $28,000 over last year, can be attributed to a jump in pension and health insurance costs among library employees.
”It’s a small increase but it’s well under the tax cap that we are mandated to work under,” White said.
With state and county funding narrowing the overall budget, along with Wheatfield and Pendleton residents who use the library, taxpayers were left with a $1.34 million tab. Voters also elected incumbent Marigail Sondel, who ran unopposed for a five-year term on the library Board of Trustees.
White said 585,832 items were checked out last year, with 261,000 patrons. She noted that despite a strong movement toward digitized items such as eBooks and DVD’s, demand for the libraries vast print offerings remains strong.
”There’s still a very, very strong desire for print items,” she said.
The library has also placed an emphasis on its many programs, with 7,477 individuals attending 388 events held last year. More than 76,000 people visited the library’s website with about 30,000 using public access computers.
”I think our popularity has a lot to do with what we offer,” White said. “Rather than go to Barnes and Noble and purchase a book for $15 the public can come here.”