Sunday, January 06, 2008

SHOULD CYBERMOBILE BUS ACCEPT ADVERTISING? SHOULD THE BUS BE SHARED WITH OTHER MUNICIPAL LIBRARIES?

In the event that the Greenburgh Library Board decides not to reinstate the cybermobile and if the Town Attorney finds that the Library Board does not have to listen to the elected Town Board (which supports the cybermobile)--what are the options?
Should the Town Board contact neighboring communities and offer to share the cybermobile with them? The cybermobile could continue to serve the neighborhoods that made the most use of the cybermobile (E Hartsdale Ave, Westchester Meadows, Highpoint). The town could generate additional revenue by renting out the cybermobile to other communities part time (when our bus is not in use).
IN ADDITION- should the town accept advertising on the outside of the bus? Many businesses might be interested in using the cybermobile as an advertisement (similar to the advertising on county buses). What do you think?

28 comments:

Paul Feiner said...

Additional comment:

I think we might want to accept advertising whether or not the library decides to keep the cybermobile in operation. This can generate some needed revenue.

Anonymous said...

Feiner's suggestion is disingenuous in several respects.

First of all, Feiner already has an opinion from his town attorney which says that state Education Law does not permit the Town Board to interfere in educational matters by dictating to the library board how the money allocated to the library should be spent.

Second, Feiner has to know that selling advertising and leasing the cybermobile won't work unless the town board -- rather than the library -- is willing to underwrite the costs of operating the cybermobile, which Feiner has said won't happen.

Why does this matter? Because the cybermobile is very expensive to operate. It is not housed in any garage, the vehicle is several years old, and it requires substantial maintenance.

It is difficult to believe other towns would pay for it, but if the bus were leased to other communities, the town would also have to hire one or more full-time drivers. Why should that come out of the library's budget?

And why should the library's budget bear the risk the town would face if the cymbermobile had to be mothballed for maintenance (as is often presently the case) and the advertisers didn't get their money's worth?

Once again, Feiner's come up with ideas that he hasn't thought through and just won't work.

Anonymous said...

If the library will not sell the bookmobile the town should charge the library rent for parking on town property.

Anonymous said...

Feiner's intense dislike for things he cannot control is beginning to be a bore.
He hates the library because he cannot bend it to his political will.
He hates the books in the library because he isn't the one choosing which books are suitable.
He hates the people who read the books because the unsuitable books give them unsuitable ideas.
Every would-be dictator has started by restricting the written word - then the spoken word - and finally made unapproved thought a crime.
While it won't happen in Greenburgh, thank your lucky stars our Supervisor couldn't get himself elected to Congress. Our contribution to the national wellbeing is to keep Feiner local.

Anonymous said...

I see the cybermobile as a convenience to the elderly, rather than a required service for Greenburgh residents. The cybermobile can be re-instated when the library budget can support it financially again. If the purchsing funds are used for the cybermobile now, where will the funds come from in Oct. when the library purchaes are made ? Does Greenburgh print money like the Federal Gov't ? As mentioned, the expense to maintain the cybermobile is not cheap. If the library construction goes over budget, who pays for that ? I'm sure we will, just like everything else.

Anonymous said...

We are looking foward to lowering taxes so we should not let the library crooks dictate to us all that they want.
They have done this for years.
We are now in a bad position with our huge tax hike that the supervisor and town councils have to do something to help us out.
We will be paying huge taxes for a few years to come. Why must we waste our money on what they want anymore and being blackmailed in taking away the bookmobile and Sunday
We the residents are making demands too,
We did not need this new library
BUT the residents that voted this in did not know what was in store for ALL.
They were only interested in a state of arts building that will not be completed with the alloted money that they demanded.
Poor planning on everyones part.

Anonymous said...

I hope Mr.Finer and the Townboard will remember what the Library did to the residents of Greenburgh, when next years budget comes around.

The Library expansion was a bad idea and it will hang over Greenburgh for a long time.

Anonymous said...

tThe library expansion cannot be blamed on Feiner. You should blame the four council members on the town board.
They voted in this proposal to get back at Feiner number one because he was dead set against it.
Second Sheehan and company never thought that Feiner would win in the election together with the three other winners.
If Feiner lost the election the way would be wide open for Sheehan to run for Supervisor the next time arround.
So please blame Sheehan .
If I recall I think Bass voted against the expansion,but I can't swear it.
Our tax hike is not Feiner's fault.It's totally Sheehan's.
The bus should be sold by the library and use the money to buy what they need.
If it is not sold they should pay for parking the bus on town property.

Anonymous said...

Library Bd members should be elected.

Anonymous said...

Sharing is just another way for the Town to provide services to Village residents without charging them. Lets go for it.

Anonymous said...

Any stats available on cybermobile usage? I used to go about every other week in Hartsdale village, on either Tues. evening or Sat afternoons. It never looked very busy to me. Always had more staff (often 3) than patrons. Never appeared to be a senior citizen hang out either - after all, how can anyone get up and down those steps without killing themselves? Nor is it large enough to have an appealing selection of material. Cynically, I always suspected the cybermobile was just a boondoggle to excuse a few more sinecures for the town.

Anonymous said...

ADVERTISE,SO STUPID

THE TRUTH said...

WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY 22MILL FOR A LIBRARY. STOP THE LIBRAY PROJECT AND MAKE IT THE NEW POLICE STATION COURT.THAT WAS WHAT THE TOWN NEEDED.MAKE THE POLICE STATION INTO THE LIBRARY.THATS HOW YOU CAN BALANCE THE BUDGET.

Anonymous said...

MANY RESIDENTS AGREE THAT A POLICE STATION - COURT IS NEEDED,BUT INSTEAD YOU PUT THIS PROJECT BEFORE WHAT WAS NEEDED.NOT AGOOD POLITICAL MOVE.

THE TRUTH said...

TAX PAYERS SHOULD NOT PAY FOR A LIBRARY THAT THEY DONT USE.THE OLD ONE WAS FINE.IT WAS NEWER THAN THE POLICE STATION.I DONT UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT.EVEN THE OLD TOWN HALL WAS NEWER.

Anonymous said...

This may be a good vehicle for allowing residents to vent, but is not always useful getting out the truth. So let me, try and add some truthiness to the rants:

1. The cybermobile vehicle is owned by the town, so if one were to charge for parking it somewhere, I suppose the town should charge itself.

2. The cuts that the town Board made to the libraary consituted approximately 47% of all cust that were made to all departments, and including the funds that the library had accumulated in a "savings" account from prior years that were removed by the Town and not made available to the library, the total cuts and funds that were sequestered totaled approximately $700,000.

3. The time to campaign against a new library and for a new court/police station, was prior to the referendum to approve the bond issue for the new library. One must respect the voice of the people that was exercised at that time, or is it that we respect only the outcomes that we agree with.

Lastly, I have a couple of questions, I'd pose to Supervisor Feiner: When you asked department heads for their ideas for cutting costs and reducing their budgets, did you similarly ask the Library Trustees what costs they could trim? Did you ask and did you understand the implications of the cuts you and the rest of the Town Board were going to impose on the Library before those cuts were imposed?

Anonymous said...

The library cut a high profile program for purely political purposes.

paul lays awake at night thinking .... said...

*snort* Yeah, maybe you can buy space on it and slap a "I'm with Paul" ad on it.

Anonymous said...

To state, as Anonymous has, that the Library Trustees cut a high-profile program for political purposes, without offering anything in the way of proof when there are ample financial facts that that contradict such a position, is tedious and unpersuasive.

ed krauss said...

The TRUTH according to "ME":

* The cuts were from a dept.whose services would be underutilized because of construction, makes sense to "ME"

* The fund balance that was not returned to the library was not "savings," it was a function of asking for more than was needed, and getting away with it...for years

* The library, with a smaller 2007 budget; more staff people; a higher paid head librarian;more spending for books, etc.,with little or no regard or thought to the minimization of services when construction started; a contingency fund which was unused, yet a new and greater one was requested; ran the cybermobile-all year( when not in the shop)-AND had Sunday hours.

That is the TRUTH you seek,11:44 PM, and not the obfuscation you deliver.

And if the cybermobile is a convenience for our seniors, think of your mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, any of whom are still alive, and then think hard abot the time you may be called a senior and some smart posterior cavity like you, questions the need.

If you're really looking for the truth check out the last 5, or so library budgets and then come back to these blogs and apologize.

Anonymous said...

In response to the posting of Ed Krauss:

If your truth makes sense to you, that’s fine, but you’re not very observant or in tune with what the citizens of Greenburgh want and deserve. You also appear to be ignorant about the savings implications of cutting library services whose costs are inelastic versus those services, which when cut not only achieve real savings but as we have seen, result in outcries that significant, valuable services the public wants have to be cut. What you want are cuts that are meaningful but that don’t result in service reductions---fat chance of that, Mr. Ed Krause.

I never claimed that the fund balance was a saving, but by historical precedent and practice it was reserved for the library as a cushion against extraordinary expenses from year to year. Get it? Sort of like the rainy-day fund that the town dissipated and that resulted in a 19% tax increase. The Supervisor will tell you that reserve funds do not necessarily result from bloated budget requests; rather reserves can be sound conscious efforts to cover unforeseen costs in certain years and preclude the need for such outrageous tax increases as the citizens of Greenburgh are facing.

Oh you must be an elected official and self-appointed expert on how to run a library and provide services to the children and all others in the town, not to mention Senior Citizens. Well, now I’ve heard everything…a library that buys books so those it serves can read them. And a library that had a reserve fund. So what is it Mr. Ed Krause? Is it that the Town wants such services as a cybermobile all year round and Sunday hours, or do we leave it to a blowhard committee of one to tell use how such services should be provided.

Your truth reads more like smoke and mirrors and wreaks of misplaced self-righteousness.

Where there is little truth, light or sense, those who have nothing to offer resort to ad hominem attacks and bluster, resulting in neither convincing argument nor respect for their position or themselves. So, Mr. Ed Krause whoever and whatever you are, why not crawl back into that little dark hole you crept out of and stay there until the spring, when the warmth and scent of flowers that we so love in Greenburgh masks the stench that emanates from you.

Apologies? None are owed, except by you for the faux arguments and crude characterization.

THE TRUTH said...

ed the truth according to you.I REALLY DID NOT HAVE TO ANSWER YOU.ITHINK THE TRUTH BOTHERS YOU.WHY DONT WE HAVE THE BOOKS DELIVERED TO YOUR HOUSE.DOOR TO DOOR SERVICE.I DONT KNOW HOW YOU GET YOUR FACTS? THANK U 9:00

Anonymous said...

9:00 an 9;48
The truth bothers you. If the library has unused funfs in their account why must they ask for more especially when they have a non working building.
Is the money on hand some ones nest egg.
No one has ever looked into the libraries doings up till now.
Well the party is over we want to run the library as honest as possible from now on.
You the library personel have had enough fun at the tax payers expense now it's pay back.
You could do and cut whatever services you want,just remember that there are other libraries that we could frequent.
By the way Ardsley is expanding their EXISTING library so who needs you anymore.

hal samis said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk...
Another online fisticuffs between Ed Krauss in the white trunks and someone named anonymous wearing no trunks because, after all, no one can see that the he-she has nothing between the legs.

Anonymous of January 9 writes at 11:44 "including the funds that the library had accumulated in a 'savings' account from prior years". And by 9:00 this changes to "I never claimed that the fund balance was a saving" but perhaps by writing incoherently, they have a point.

The Library Fund did not materialize overnight. It got there the same way the Town's Fund Balances grew -- with a slight exception. Whereas the Town can not accurately predict the major revenue lines, the Library knows to the dollar how much they will get in the coming year -- and they get the full amount in January of the calendar year so they can earn interest on it. As for expenses, just like the Town does, the Library bumps up their expenses so as to have a surplus at year end (even though in so doing both the Town and the Library are socking it to the taxpayers). That intended surplus is really the contingency fund, not the line item unique to the Library. But there is a difference: when the Town does it and the other Town departments do it, the surplus flows back into the Fund Balances which have been allowed to grow and grow until recent years when these surpluses were used to reduce tax increases. "Just not my Fund" says the Library. "We shouldn't have to give back the fruit of our deception and return what wasn't spent like all the other departments. We are special; we are the Library." And just like Chief Kapica likes to play his trump card "what if someone were to die" so the Library says "without us your kids are going to grow up stupid, not get into college and be relegated to a life of CSEA raises".

So even though civil service is a really a great sinecure, it perhaps is not as great a deal as is offered to the senior staff at the Library, positions that parents should only hope that their children will grow up, not to marry a doctor or a lawyer, but to marry a Library Director -- at least one creating the deal for herself (with the Trustees consent) that former Director Gerber had.

But the reality is that the Town awoke from a deep sleep, particularly the narcolepsy practiced by Diana Juettner and the three twigs and they allowed the Library to get away with its game because it was better to allow the plundering to continue than allow that Feiner was right about the Library.

So now we find that the Library is upset for a number of reasons: the chief one being that the Town repatrioted the excess funding and returned it to its proper home, the B fund.

What's all the fuss? Well, permit me to tell a tale out of school (State Education laws notwithstanding). Everyone in Town, everyone including, even Al Regula, knows that the construction program is in deep manure and way over budget. By my reckoning, they are at least $1.5 million over after reducing the scope, the amenities, and the quality. Everyone that is except the Library Board of Trustees headed by Howard Jacobs and Susan Wolfert. My, my, what's a volunteer to do? So speaking out of one side of their mouth, the Trustees say to the Public and the Town Board that the project is on budget and to their fundraisers, the Greenburgh Library Foundation, the Trustees say help, h-e-l-p, HELP! We don't have any money for furniture or technology.
But does anyone remember the Trustees organizing a raffle or a bake sale or a car wash? You see these Trustees are white collar Trustees.

And just to make the Foundation's work a tad harder, the Library Trustees decide to eliminate the cybermobile and Sunday service, the very amenities meant to overcome the lingering bad taste following the botched job the Trustees did in providing for relocation of the Library during construction. How much money, corporate Greenburg, do you want to contribute to a Library at war with its Patrons?

But what does this have to do with the Library's closed savings account? The now imploded scheme was to build up the Library Fund so it could be used to finance the completion of their Library that "isn't" over budget. No wonder they are on the warpath.

Doesn't the Library need their own fund? No more than any other Town department which don't have them. But what about emergencies? Fortunately the Library's inflated expenses always manage to eke out a cushion which was how the Library Fund grew and grew. And the Libary has a rich uncle, the Town, or had until last November. Money to pay for rent for Frank's, outside attorney's to review the lease, review the construction contracts...these were paid by the Town or would have been paid by the Town because they aren't capital expenses and thus not bondable. And, what would be a non-reimbursable emergency for the Library? The Library service contract with Elmsford or lack of wasn't Library revenue; it was B fund revenue. And thanks to rich uncle, the Library doesn't pay rent to the A fund for the land underneath the building which is occupied by the Libary during and after construction nor does it pay rent to the A fund for its use of the space in Town Hall. The Greenburgh Public Library is wholly an expense of unincorporated whereas the Town entire budget and assets of the Town such as Town Hall are owned, maintained and supported by the A Budget which includes the Villages who operate and maintain their own Libraries -- so why are they subsidizing the Library belonging to unincorporated?

But the Library really loves its Patrons and is always looking for new ways to help and serve. For the staff this part is true. For the management and the Trustees, the game is no longer as subtle. While the workers politley say Mr. and Mrs. to the taxpayers, the business plan of the Trustees is to stick it to the residents in whatever way they can.
This includes an over-sized building; paying their staff increases above the increases paid to the rest of the Town staff, asking for everything under the sun and then...this year when they "drove their Chevy to the levee, they discovered that the river was dry".

What a "revolting development" this was. The Town had painted itself into a corner from not controlling expenses as revenue declined and the tough way to set things straight was to raise taxes in unicorporated by 23%. Part of the problem in finding out "what condition their condition was in" was the belated realization of the effect of the Library debt service on about $13 million issued of the Library's $19.8 million Referendum authorization (the debt service will increase next year and thereafter as the additional debt service kicks in along with the sinking fund to repay the principal taking hold). "But Virginia, it's only $68 a year for the average assessment..." or, if you prefer, "When the piper plays, you have to pay him".

But even though there is no money to buy chairs, perhaps even a front door, what the Trustees feel is important is that all the extra space must look like it was needed so they have to fill it up quickly and that is why, even though the Library won't open until October 2008, the earliest, the Library Trustees "said" (in their October 1
request) they need to spend $165,000 more on books, cds and dvds than they did in 2007. Money that may be spent on these items or used instead to buy that missing front door because once they get their hands on the money, NYS Education laws say they can spend it on whatever they want. PERHAPS THE VALHALLA SCHOOL DISTRICT IS NOT PART OF NEW YORK OR IS GOVERNED BY DIFFERENT LAWS because some Greenburgh residents don't like how they spend THEIR money. And the Greenburgh Library Trustees thought that the world was their oyster because they were squirreling away their Library Fund (over $400,000) for their own rainy day -- when their bubble burst.

The blowhards are not Mr. Krauss or yours truly. What we expect from the Library is only what it promised its patrons -- those that support the Library and pay the Library bills by paying taxes. It is the responsibility of the Library Trustees to use their resources for the intended purposes not to tuck them away in dark corners reserved for other uses on other days. Are staffing expenses rigid? Yes (other departments) and No (the Library). But in a year when, like last year, the full time staff has been retained for the good of all, Library, staff and Patrons, even though they were retained in 2007 as they will in 2008 but still tripping over each other in the contained 5000 feet of Library space (versus the old 22,000 feet), one simply must question why the 2008 Budget shows an increase in part-time clerks (presumably more persons not salary increases) from $126,200 to $160,000 while they find it necessary to fire ONLY the ONE driver/CLERK earning $45,832 who can operate the cybermobile because the Library doesn't have enough money. Meanwhile like I mentioned, book purchases increased from 2007's $85,000 to 2008's $150,000, audio visual (dvds) went from $40,000 to $135,000 and recordings went from $13,000 to $36,000 and these three items alone now represent not what I had seen before as a $165,000 increase but are now a $183,000 INCREASE but the Library Trustees say they do not have enough money to continue the cybermobile. And as I am now told that the line "contingency fund" is really used against the forthcoming CSEA increases, one wonders why it has increased from $26,884 in 2007 to $73,372 while the TOTAL Library payroll in 2007 was $1,727,000 and is declining to $1,633,00 in 2008 even though the newly filled top positions are not CSEA. One would think that with a lower payroll, the contractual increases would go down causing the contingency fund (CSEA increases) to follow as well.

But there are lots of explanations: things I understand and things I don't. Still, even my amateur status notwithstanding, I suspect that there really is enough money to operate the cybermobile and continue Sunday hours in 2008 while the Library is not operating at its peak.

Remember too that the Library Budget is the Library Budget only after the Town Board has voted to accept the Town Budget. This is not word parsing. Any Department, including the Library, can ask for anything they want. This request is not their BUDGET; it is only their REQUEST. When they are allocated less funding, their BUDGET has not been cut, only their REQUEST has. If they asked for $15 million and only got $5 million, their budget has not been cut by 67%. Only the current Library Board of Trustees would indulge in this deception but such behavior follows easily when you lie about the construction project.
If you look at the actual, final figures of the the Town's 2008 budget you will see on page 132, the Library's 2007 Budget is estimated to conclude the year with $3,070,000 from a year ago 2007 Budget of $3,309,000. Their 2008 Budget after all the reductions, Supervisor and Town Board is $3,340,000 or $270,000, 8.8%, more than the 2007 year end estimate. But what about those expense items which are "misappropriations", foisted upon the Library by a heartless Town Supervisor looking to screw the Library.

These items, the "800" line items (NYS Retirement, social security, medical insurance, etc) were $707,000 in 2007 and are $650,000 in 2008. Boy! did the Library get screwed by SAVING $57,000! The other section, the "900" line items (building maintenance, radio communications, etc) were $347,870 in 2007 and in 2008 $350,129. Again the Supervisor screwed the Library, this time by
a higher cost to the Library of...
$2,259. No wonder they had no money to continue the cybermobile and Sunday hours as they did in 2007 with a SMALLER Budget.

Now I will concede that Mr. Krauss probably was not aware of all of these details when he wrote his "faux arguments and crude characterization" but I suggest that you, who know better, take the proverbially long walk off a short pier.

The Library Trustees and the Library is supposed to be about providing information -- even when the information hurts. Regarding the concerted effort by the Library Trustees to discredit the Town and anyone who would dare to challenge their fictional account of the Budget process, I say it sucks. I say that the only purpose served by discontinuing the cybermobile was to use it as a bargaining chip to extort more money from the Town Board because the real occupants of the Children's Room are the Library Board of Trustees who are throwing a tantrum because they didn't get their way and know that their day of reckoning is approaching when they have to face the music -- the Library expansion project is seriously under water and no matter how hard Howard and Susan huff or puff; they can't put the Library fiction back together again.

The danger is that Ed Krauss, an Edgemont resident, formerly supported the Library expansion. Now that he has come to recognize what is happening and is writing about it, the Trustees fear that he will be joined by other Edgemont residents who come with a mind set that Libraries, like School Boards and Nature Centers, are never wrong, but now may just be ready to revise that belief to "School Boards and Nature Centers are never wrong but the Trustees of the Greenburgh Library are so full...of themselves".

Anonymous said...

Hal failed to point out that the action just taken by the Town Board to remove the Library's "savings account" could have been taken AT ANY TIME WHILE THE SURPLUS WAS ACCUMULATING.
That the Supervisor and the Town Board DID NOTHING should be taken as either:
1.) They approved and are complicit
or
2.) They were derelict in the duties of oversight of the Town Budget
Take your pick - either way it doesn't show our Town Government at its best.

hal samis said...

Hal might add that since the Library Fund existed, it could always be merged into the larger Town Fund but there was no earlier need to do so.

Since the anonymous blogger from west of Central Avenue wants to turn this inward and accuse the Town Supervisor of not doing his job and therefore dilute my issues with the Library Trustees, then let me further clarify what I earlier explained.

Both the Town and the Library were building Fund balances almost the same way. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And it went on for years. In general savings accounts are not a bad idea but no one can afford to fund contribute to them when they face bills needing to be paid or rising expenses while countenancing declining revenues.

Such a scenario was what the Town faced in the last three years when it tiptoed into annual Budget season. This year without a Comptroller.

For two years the Town Board chose to defer tax increases by dipping into the surplus from the Fund Balance. However this year's threatened 23% tax increase was the result of withdrawing and not reducing expenses. To lower this high number, the Board chose to, in part, apply the same hat trick and again invade their rainy day savings account because it was pouring in unincorporated. One might even say "JIM Dandy to the rescue". However, this year versus the prior two, the Town Board faced a serious problem -- they had been recently educated to become learn that it is prudent to retain a certain level of cash in the Fund Balance and to further deplete what remained would become perilous policy. So, perhaps due to the ministrations of Mr. Kolesar, the Town learned that their Fund Balance was larger than what was thought -- it just existed disbursed over various overlooked budget lines (why? you'll respond) and that they could be consolidated into just one which would reflect the true total and allow the determination of how much could be withdrawn to pay down the tax increase.

However, what strikes me as most curious is -- that in my long post arguing that the Library Trustees did not have to eliminate the cybermobile and Sunday hours -- all that you came away with was a comment about the inadequacies of the Town Board.

The Town recently lived through elections and the residents that cared enough showed their support or lack of for the various candidates running for office. Two members of that derelict dais were removed (while the third, the Supervisor won a resounding victory) but not before those two in their eleventh hour sponsored Howard Jacob's neighbor to fill a vacant seat on the Library Board. You are entitled to your opinions, of course, but when does the election process end? And why do you dwell in the past and instead ignore the travesty that is the Library Board of Trustees?

Anonymous said...

Equal travesties in equal time frames. Neither Board lived up to its responsibilities. Neither showed any concern for their respective constituients. There is more than enough guilt to go around.

hal samis said...

But his topic is about the Library and its failures.