In its first budget cycle since admitting to, and remedying, years of shoddy bookkeeping practices, the New Rochelle Public Library Board of Trustees has released its proposed spending plan for 2012-2013.
The new budget calls for a 2.2 percent increase in the tax levy, a hike of $93,209.
Overall spending, meanwhile, is expected to fall slightly to $4,468,996, about $5,000 less than the current budget allows.
Despite increases in salaries, health insurance and pension costs, this is the second year in a row that library board members have cut costs. Since 2005, the library has trimmed its staff from 42 positions to 30.
“The board is trying to keep expenses under control, but it’s very difficult,” board member and Budget Committee Chairman Bernardo Nunez said.
He added that board members reduced the approximately $300,000 the library spends on new books and materials, a painful move.
“If we want a robust library, we need to maintain our acquisitions budget,” he said.
Last summer, library officials admitted that lax bookkeeping practices had led them to overstate the amount of cash they had on hand.
“What it appears has happened is that over a number of years, our fund balance has not been accurately accounted for,” board member Bo Kemp said in August. “And it caught up with us.”
As a result, the library reassigned several workers, re-examined its accounting policies and brought on board members with accounting and finance backgrounds, including Nunez.
The library is in the middle of a $3 million infrastructure-improvement effort, for which it issued 20-year bonds. This year, in addition to other efforts, new sprinkler systems will be installed and entrances will be brought into compliance with disability codes.
Funding for the library’s programming comes largely from its three support organizations: The New Rochelle Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the New Rochelle Public Library and the Partnership for the Huguenot Children’s Library.