Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LIBRARY CAN RESTORE CYBERMOBILE AND SUNDAY HOURS--LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE A NICE SURPLUS FROM 2007

Fyi. If the library wants to keep the library open on Sunday’s and to restore the cybermobile—this is one way you can make this happen. PAUL FEINER
-----Original Message-----
From: Bart J. Talamini
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 2:12 PM
To: Paul Feiner
Subject: RE: library budget--do they have a surplus
Paul,
The library administration submitted their budget for 2008 showing an addition to their fund balance of $ 1,288 (see page 135 of the adopted budget under the column heading Estimate 12/31/07). As of 1/23/08, the library’s actual addition to their fund balance for FYE 12/31/07 is $107,000, however, the books have not been closed out
for the fiscal year ended 12/31/07. Specifically, all of the revenue & expense items for 12/31/07 have not been posted to the library accounts as of 1/23/08 because
we are still processing (accruing/recording the expense) invoices for 2007 expenditures. This is a normal year end procedure that we follow. We will have a better idea
of what the library’s 2007 surplus will be in another week or two. If the library does finish out the year with a surplus, they can certainly apply that surplus to the operation
of the cybermobile.
BT--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Paul Feiner
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 9:16 AM
To: Bart J. Talamini
Cc: Town Board
Subject: library budget--do they have a surplus
Bart: Can you provide me and members of the Town Board with the following information:
Does the library have a surplus from the 2007 operations? My recollection was that you mentioned that the surplus was $239,000. Can you provide us with the information before tonights meeting.
What is being done with the surplus funds?
PAUL FEINER

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be extremely irresponsible for the library board to apply the surplus, if any to the 2008 operating budget.

The town board has reduced the portion of the library's budget funded by taxpayers for 2008 to $2.8 million. The library's actual budget is $3.4 million. The difference was made up by the town board's decision to deplete the library's entire accumulated fund balance.

In 2006, the last year the library was operating out of the old building, the library's budget was $3 million.

In 2009, even if the town board were to grant the library a 5% increase, total budgeted expenditures would still be less than $3 million -- the total needed to operate the library in 2006.

Therefore, if the library does in fact have any surplus left over from 2007, that's money that's going to be very much needed in 2009 and 2010.

It would therefore be very reckless for the library board to waste that money in 2008 on operating the bookmobile and on Sunday hours.

The town board needs to be reminded again and again that the people who will be hurt the most by the hundreds of thousands of dollars in library budget cuts made by the town board are the African American and Latino children and teenagers from poorer families who live along the Route 119 corridor where the Greenburgh library is located. Those families who have relied on Greenburgh to provide a safe and quiet environment for their kids to study after school and on the weekends will be hurt the most by what Feiner is trying to do here.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not funds are available, I'm wondering if there's been a demonstrated need for the Cybermobile and/or for Sunday hours. They might be handy, but are they cost-efficient? What are the user stats for Sunday hours and for the Cybermobile during the past couple of years?

hal samis said...

Great Caesar's ghost!
Ask your friendly Library Board of Trustees. They are the only people who would know.

I'll bet 4:44 and 5:05 didn't donate blood following 9/ll either.

Of course if 4:44 is really worried about 2009, he could always ask the Library Trustees just to match the raises for other town employees; he could ask them to stop buying cds and dvds and the best seller fiction list and load fill the shelves instead with Dickens, Trollope and
Shakespeare and this would also be grounds to not have a cafe in the building.

Anonymous said...

If one digs deep into the library funds you can cut the budget by more money.
They want they want and all the time they had plenty of money hanging arround.
THANK YOU MR.COMPTROLLER, JOB WELL DONE.

Anonymous said...

As another poster on this blog who goes by the nome de plume of "data not drama" (I think), what are the facts and how may they be independently verified?

The Library Board clearly, in a difficult budget period, is just trying to make it more so for purely political reasons. First, just step back and take a close read on the Acting Controller's email. Back in late September / early October, the Library with benefit of knowing what it had already spent, who was and is on the payroll, projected a slight suplus of about $1,200. Less than 3 months later it has balooned to a current estimate of $107,000. Need some financial controls here, anyone? What line items show the variances? Book and CD acquisitions, maybe? Let's see the details, then we all can judge whether they can really forecast what they need. Remember, the original budget for 2007 called for them to use about $235,000 of their surplus, but instead they generated additional surplus of $107,000. Sounds like a money / budget game to me. Given that, they are crying "poor" house, but if their recent "accuracy" in budgeting is anything to go by, they have a lot of excess in the current 2008 budget, and that comment doesn't even touch the valid concerns expressed by some (mostly Mr. Samis), that in smaller space for most of the year, physical acquisitions of books and material will be at low levels.

No folks, the game here which is all too tranparent is that the Library Board, having messed up the construction project, is trying to pad their appropriation request so they can use their excess funds to buy furniture, etc. Remember, that under State law, once you give them the funds, unlike any other activity, they can do whatever they want. Not true for any other Town Department or activity. While in most municipalities, Library Boards act responsibiliy towards the public, unfortunately for the Town of Greeburgh, the Town has a dysfunctional Library Board. Open up your books to an independent financial / operational review. Do it now!!! Let's get the facts before the general public and stop the self-serving garbage.

Anonymous said...

The library has kept bad books,just to fool the public.
It's a crime to have two sets of books as the library has had for some time since no one checked on their activities and spending.
The town should dig further and to their surprise they will find how crooked the whole system was being run.

hal samis said...

Dear 10:18,

Perhaps you are on to something.
You may have explained why the Library needs to buy more books.

I am a recent convert to the "show me, don't tell me school of thought".

Thus I would like to understand recent statements from the Library that need further explanation, if not proof.

In a few days it will be February. The Library Board of Trustees has made some vague assurances about the new Library and the month of October which is eight months away. October is further out than any previous date reported by the Library Trustees who still say that the project is not behind schedule. Frankly, my concern is not when construction is complete; it is when the Library opens its doors to admit patrons. Since the Library wants to make purchases now to fill the shelves of the new building, I think it reasonable to determine if these purchases will have a home to go to or whether they will just be added to the already significant storage bill.

**The question to be answered by the Library is: When will the new Library be open and return to full service. I would assume that by now they have such a week/month/year in mind (I'll accept any of these other than year (2008) because they have chosen to spend their 2008 budget, not to provide service matching the reduced level of 2007, but to cause even more patron hardship by diverting their 2008 funding to satisfy their master, the new building. Thus, Library Board, when will the new building be open for patron use?

The Library says they have to place orders for their 2008 books and materials now, not later. While I don't doubt that new titles are released with pub dates extending throughout the year and that the Library makes its purchases through a short list of approved vendors, I do doubt that these distibutors would refuse orders or that the materials that the Library would order are scarce and in short supply; that the distributor, if sold out, would not reorder or that the materials cannot be ordered from another vendor if efforts to purchase them later in the year were fruitless.
I am sure that it is easier to place the entire year's order with one purchase order. However if the priority is convenience for senior staff and the victims are the Library's patrons, then I think the order of priorities need be rearranged.

**The question to be answered by the Library is: Why do these orders have to be placed now rather than later?

The Library says that they cannot afford to operate the cybermobile with the funds at their disposal, such funding provided in 2008 is higher (not by much) than that which was provided in 2007. Howard Jacobs says that it costs $157,000 to operate the cybermobile and that the Library doesn't have this money available. I can only find $70,000in their 2008 request for items associated with the cybermobile. These line items are driver/clerk (fired), part-time driver/cleaner (fired), gas, grease and oil (eliminated) and satellite contract (eliminated). The other staff associated with the cybermobile are still at work in the Library so there were no savings achieved from this.

**The question for the Library is where in their October 1 budget request is the $87,000 difference that I can't find?

The Library Trustees claim that once construction began, it became a Town project and that the head of DPW, Al Regula is the Town's point man. Representing the winning bidders (contractors) is the construction manager, Triton. It is the norm for at least these two groups to meet frequently (likely biweekly intervals) to discuss the progress of the project and to keep abreast of what lies ahead and whether change orders are required. I would hate to think that there is no paper documentation of these private meetings. That a $20 million project can advance without generating any documentation. Hence, today's FOIL Request for same.

**Question for the Library is whether their most recent exchanges with Mr. Regula assured them that the project remains within the $19.8 million referendum and such changes to the project as have incurred have been only inconsequential cosmetic and quality downgrades and that the project (including furniture and technology) can still be completed without requiring additional funding?

Hey Library Trustess and Diana Juettner, liaison, how about it?

Anonymous said...

There's enough money for the bookmobile and Sunday Lord be Praised.
By the way what will be happening to the rest of that monstrosity on 119 the library.
Truthfully speaking if it had more parking space that would make a great catering hall for weddings and parties.
Our money was thrown out the window. The building is a disaster.
The previous board is to blame for this fiasco
Feiner said NO but the rest of the board said YES.

.

the disaster is juettner said...

the poster child for the library fiasco is spelled

J U E T T N E R

town board member who lives in ardsley and doesnt pay one dime for the greenburgh public library

juettner must pay for this at the ballot box in 2009.

juettner must be defeated.

Anonymous said...

Juettner Speaks!

This was not from an early 1929 talkie broadside. This is very current! It was reported that for the first time since early in the summer of 2007, when the Dromore Road fiasco was revealed, and that lawyer Juettner may be implicated in wrong doing, she actually spoke.

This vow of silence was thought to be an effort to practice for a term of penance, requiring utter isolation and silence in an cloistered order.

We did learn that being the library liaison didn't really mean a thing. In fact, aside from her lack of creditability, she is the last remaining Board Member responsible for the library boondoggle. Bye-bye to Diane and her buddy Frankly Sheehan in 2009.

Tom Paine

Anonymous said...

Whether it can be afforded or not, perhaps there's no need for the cybermobile or Sunday hours.

hal samis said...

Then why doesn't the Library say that?

Your speculation can be cleared up only by the Library. They maintain the stats.

Otherwise, the Libary's position has been that they can't afford to operate the cybermobile and Sunday hours.

You must think you have invented the term conundrum -- raise a question that won't be answered.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

The "reason" the Library Board won't answer the questions about usage is because if the answer is that there has been insufficient usage, when did it begin and why did they wait so long to make the changes, thereby putting themselves once again in the position as unnecessarily spending tax dollars all these years. It also means that next year's (2009) budget better not have these activities within the budget. It seems to me that they are continuing to paint themselves into a smaller and smaller corner.

Need everyone remember that this is the small Board that drove Elmsford away at a cost of more than $1.0 million over 4 years by their arrogance and unwilliness to realistically negotiate. New blood and new eyes are definitely needed, regardless of Mr. Jacobs' position at Tuesday's work session that the Library Board and Library Board alone will determine who any nominee for any open positions should be. Keep the "club" clubby and guaranteed there will be more of this behavior to the detriment of the community.

Anonymous said...

It was Paul Feiner who drove Elmsrod away, with his continual insistance that unincorporated greenburgh provide free or reducted rate services to elmsford residents.

hal samis said...

Unfortunately, the comment regarding Mr. Feiner exists before I could respond. NO, I don't live for the blog so I do have a life, at times, away from it.

And, I wonder who is the anonymous author of that Feiner tall tale. If you're going to lie at least try and construct a lie that makes some sense. If Feiner wanted to allow Elmsford to use the Library for free, how would that drive Elmsford residents away. Should he have, instead, offered to pay Elmsford residents to use the Library? Get real!

The reason I make this extended introduction is that I intended on this matter to defend the Library and, now this point also includes the Supervisor.

Neither the Trustees or Feiner were wrong on this issue -- and neither was Elmsford or Ardsley.

When the contract ended, the Greenburgh Library had already announced that they were undertaking a major construction project which meant that most of the Library would be closed -- not a desirable opportunity for those having a choice about paying higher use fees to Greenburgh for use of the Library (including the entree to the WLS).

However, under the expiring contract, Elmsford was paying, per resident, a lot less than unincorporated Greenburgh was paying per resident to fund the Library's annual operating expenses AND, AND, AND Elmsford did not have to contribute to the capital cost ($19.8 million) of the expansion, "intended" to result in a bigger, better Library.

I, for one, never thought that Elmsford residents should pay less per resident for our Library, especially one which is more convenient to Elmsford than it is to Edgemont. AND they didn't have to pay for the expansion cost, only the benefit.

From Elmsford's POV, they said they couldn't afford to pay more so they went shopping which was permitted under the WLS rules and struck a better deal with Ardsley.

Timing is everything. Perhaps it would be different if the issue had arose when the new Library was completed, not when it went into a lock-down mode. And maybe circumstances will change when Elmsford's contract with Ardsley expires. Or perhaps the WLS will change its rules to close the loophole.

Re how to resolve this conflict, I for once don't have an answer. Lacking any special insight is why I don't blame any side, the volunteers, the Town's COO and the impoversished residents of Elmsford. Note that I've explained this several times on the blog in the past.

As for the cybermobile, even though I don't have the data as it is not being made available due to a great silence from the Library, I suspect that it was a very popular service, especially on Saturday and Tuesday evenings when I was never alone on my visits. I would also remind bloggers that the Library, when they were more open to discussing their business, the Library bragged they had gained hundreds of new library card holders drawn from cybermobile visitors, not from patrons who visited the old Library. It is also logical that the Library would not want to simultaneously eliminate the service (and Sunday hours) and acknowledge that it was a very popular service.

But don't take my word, you pay to support the Library...ask them.

Anonymous said...

The Library Board wouldn't meet with Elmsford officials. A big reason why Greenburgh lost the quarter of a million dollars a year in revenue. Arrogance costs!

Anonymous said...

I think they should do the following for parking:

1. Install meters that accept either coins or tokens available at the front desk. Tokens given only to those who show current proof of residency.

2. Charge 5/hour for parking (about same as airport, white plains etc).

3. Provide clerks at library with power to right tickets. Have one of them check lot every hour or so.

Anonymous said...

The Library Board had a meeting yesterday.What did they decide? Will Sunday hours be restored? Isn't the library chartered to provide service to the community? The motto used to be "Putting Service First." Let's not make the new motto "putting service for you last"

Anonymous said...

Almost three years ago I came to the Greenburgh Town Board with these ideas stated below. They certainly co-incided with concerns expressed, and articulated fully by Supervisor Paul Feiner. His long experience told him that this plan was rushed, fiscally irresponsible, and out of the scope of the needs of Greenburgh. One can talk all they want about books, budgets, Sunday hours, bookmobiles, purchasing, and etcetera, but the bottom line is that the last Board was irresponsible.

What the Supervisor wanted, and many citizens supported were reasonable improvements in the library's heating and cooling systems, more high tech capabilities, increased parking, and the upgrading of other generally agreed upon needs. The key was to make the library more user-friendly, technologically upgraded and more accessible. The property could/would also provide senior living or assisted living, with potential volunteers to help at the library, and the generation of immediately needed funds by the sale of the land that the old Town Hall was on. The new partners in this project would have paid handsomely for the property, removed the old Town Hall at their expense and created a cash flow of annual taxes. These taxes could have halped mightily in the running of the upgraded library.


Greenburgh Library Proposals
March 9, 2005
Town Board Meeting
Richard J. Garfunkel


I. Proposals
II. Rationale
III. Implications

A) Current Situation:
1) Library and old Town Hall share property along route #119
2) Old Town Hall property unresolved
3) No taxes returned to the town- loss of $500K annually
4) Library Board wants improved change
5) Parking not adequate
6) Traffic congested-difficult and dangerous
7) Bridge repair over 119 due in the near future
8) Steep slope problems

B) First Alternative:
1) $10 million library renovation
2) Removal of the old Town Hall
3) Partnership with the Sunrise Assisted Living Corporation- sale to the Town $3 million
4) Added parking, and landscaping within the confines of the steep slopes regulation
5) Tax revenue infusion to the Town of $200-300K to the Town
6) Seniors helping with the library
7) Library interruption during renovation, library facilities temporarily moved to the old Town Hall.
8) Minimal traffic-

C) The Bailey School Alternative
1) Rehabilitation of the Bailey School into the new library- (It is a known infrastructure)
2) 70,000 square feet- mixed used combining senior apartments, market and subsidized (social positive impact on the neighborhood) with current facilities, extensive campus, and above adequate parking
3) The extra 20-30K square feet could be converted into market rate and subsidized apartment units.- The selling price could range from $150K to $400K per one or two-bedroom unit. If there were between 15- 20 units the potential revenues to a developer could be between $4M and $6M – that would create a positive tax flow to the Town and the School District of $60-100K. Also as part of the negotiations with the developer concessions could be attained to defer or assist with some of the rehabilitation costs.
4) Seniors can volunteer at the library regarding mentoring and assisting in services
5) Cost should be lower to renovate then to rebuild.
6) Library would function completely, without interruption until the new Bailey/Greenburgh Library is ready.
7) The old Town Hall and Library property would be sold, possible price $5 million to offset much of the Bailey renovation. That property could accommodate a mixture of assisted living units with senior citizens housing. The senior citizen housing could be divided between market and subsidized units.
8) New taxes on newly developed property, estimation $500K
9) Cost $4-5 million of purchase
10) Track record-Webb School Conversion to offices
11) Results:
a) Less traffic on 119
b) Positive cash flow from new taxation from both sites
c) Preservation of a classic structure
d) Less traffic for the surrounding old Town Hall site.
e) Positive social impact creating more housing
f) Less cost to the Town in interest expense and amortization
g) Greater parking and a more aesthetic location
h) An upgrade for the neighborhood


The $20 million Bond Issue for a new Library
· Interruption of Library services for one to two plus years
· Architecture mismatch
· Multi-level entering- problems of accessibility
· Expense of transference into alternate site-$500K in rental, plus conversion costs could run to $1M plus.
· Increase in taxes- making life less affordable in Greenburgh – potential of double-digit taxation.
· Loss of potential revenue for the property-$400K annually- $12M over 30 years
· Loss of $5M in the sale
· Large investment in the face of changing world of information technology-universal internet accessibility
· Cost to the taxpayers $4.5 per thousand or new taxes on a $15,000 assessment ($500K) home of $60.65 per year. This would result in a tax increase of 3.7%
· Problems with traffic vis-à-vis overpass reconstruction on 119.
· Lack of time to consider alternatives
· Too small of a vote to determine largest bond issue in Greenburgh history.
· No corporate assistance in costs
· 30 year bond
· Results:
a) More taxes for the Town Residents
b) Disruption of library services for possibly two years
c) More traffic in the neighborhood and on 119-
d) A poor architectural plan regarding accessibility
e) The possibility of an obsolete library system vis-à-vis new technology. The libraries of the near future maybe radically different.

Please note what has happened. Hal Samis is 100% right in his critical view of the flawed thinking of the Library Board. Mr. Howard Jacobs should resign immediately. Supervisor Paul Feiner saw the future correctly in 2005, and in 2007, when the Town started to understand the the consequences of the Library Board and the Town Board's errors, they re-elected him overwhelmingly and threw out the Town Board members who rushed into this boondoggle. I assume in 2009 the voters will think the same way.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

Richard,

The library was voted on by the people and is over and done with.

Your time would better be spent with alternatives re the public safety building.

Anonymous said...

12:16 the library was not voted on by all the residents.
The supervisor had requested that the vote should take place at the regular election but as usual he was voted down. Had it been done his way we would have never had the problems that we are having this year and for the next few years to come .We will be looking at high taxes for these years to come.

Anonymous said...

Everyone had a chance to vote.

Anonymous said...

Enough with the cybermobile, its not that important! Paul can you focus on real issues.