Tuesday, June 17, 2008


There is a very interesting article about libraries in the June, 2008 issue of Governing Magazine (www.governing.com)--"REVOLUTION IN THE STACKS". The article points out that libraries lease space for cafes, garden shops, comic book stores and other retailers--whose leases require them to host their own events aimed at drawing yet more people to the library.
Leasing space at the new library to appropriate retailers makes some sense, in my opinion. We can generate needed revenue and offset some of the additional costs that will be incurred once the library opens up.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good idea to me.

hal samis said...

A few scatter site thoughts...

Would the Library Board of Trustees admit that there is surplus space in the building?

Would it have been legal to burden taxpayers with debt service to enter the retail leasing business?

Does allowing municipal buildings to rent space give them a competitive advantage over private landlords who are burdened by paying taxes? Does the Town need more "for rent" signs along its commercial corridors?

If town officials want to go into the leasing business, I am sure that there are jobs open for government employees
who seek new careers in the private sector.

In the meanwhile, why not sell the Library to a private investor and lease it back as a turn-key operation. Let business people run the Library; I suspect that there will be an overall savings.

The Library had already proposed a cafe, provided space for it and is quietly waiting for the opportune political moment to unveil it.

Whether or not surplus space would be better used as a garden supply store is an off-the-chart idea but given that the Library was unsuccessful in leasing the former "Frank's", the denouement arriving full circle is typical in a Greenburgh where anything is fair game for 15 minutes of fame.

As for a comic book store, why would the Library seek competition?

Finally, let's get real. The $25,000 the Town collects from renting to the Credit Union is peanuts compared to the indignity.
Let's not transport this joke to other Town structures. If the Town seeks to reduce the tax burden, eliminating the Arts Council position, the sculpture Curator in Hartsdale and the replacement Energy Czarinas would have been the sensible way to save a quick $100,000 with no pain.

But before more shots are fired, since the Library Trustees control the use of Library space, has anyone in government asked them if there is any space to rent?

The Town Supervisor and the Town Board need to find some ways to control the higher taxes in their own ballpark -- not fretting about how the County, the Library run their shops. It is true that the Library runs solely from money provided by the Town. It is my understanding that this year the Town Board is not getting involved with the Library budget line items because it has no jurisdiction over how the Library actually spends its money and the result is that the Library will just get a sum of money and spend it as it sees fit.

To be consistent with directives to other Departments, the Library 2009 budget should be the same amount as the prior year or even 5%lower if that is the measure for the other Departments. However, to be fair, I would argue in favor of selecting the year of the highest Library budget as reasonable baseline.

And maintaining this consistency, let the Library Board of Trustees originate and choose for themselves whatever roads to pursue with regard to either obtaining more revenue or decreasing expenses. The Trustees are the "masters of their domain" (Seinfeld noted) and the Town Board needs to concentrate on maintaining its own playing field.

Thanks for the interest, Mr. Feiner, but no sale.

Anonymous said...

We all know that the library is in trouble .Get rid of it now ,
The place is too large and cannot pay the bills that they will get throught the years.
The taxpayers cannot afford this white elephant.
It will make a good catering hall or a funeral parlor.
We do not have a funeral parlor soley for our Jewish brothers.
How about it if we could get one of the already established business to look into the matter,
Anything is better than putting money into a loss cause.

Anonymous said...

This is stupid!
The "new" library is still significantly smaller than the NY State Board of Regents (which is the standard setting authority for public libraries in New York State) deems adequate to serve a population as large as that in the unincorporated area.
This is so typically imbecilically Greenburgh - take a substandard "amenity" and then try to wring every possible nickel from it - when it wasn't designed for the purpose.
Look at our sanitation garage - to save money Al Regula and Paul Feiner "value engineered" it so that the trucks don't fit. Talk about wasting $20 million...And Feiner was so sure the public wouldn't approve, there was never a referendum to borrow the money - it was done as a series of borrowings, each under the amount ($5 million) which would have triggered a referendum. At least people got to vote on the library...

hal samis said...

Dear 6:14,

Take an impressive sounding body, make a vague allusion to its preachings and take a free ride on the "Reading Railroad"?

Cut the crap!

The NY State Board of Regents is free to determine all they want about how large or small SCHOOL libraries should be. NY State is also free to collect our taxes and hand them back to any community which builds a larger library. If they dare. But don't you dare to try and play the "our new Library is too small" card. Not in Greenburgh, in 2008.

The new Ossining Library has a larger auditorium than the new Greenburgh Library. The population of Ossining is less than Greenburgh. Thus, Ossining has misused their space, say the NY
Board of Regents? It doesn't matter how the space is used just as long as you have the space? You get the Library you need and can afford and "experts" on what is needed can collect their fees or otherwise serve their interests but please don't try an uncrate the "fiction" that the residents/patrons of Greenburgh are getting less than they should have as defined by interest and advocacy groups running multiple entries in the same race.

And, after the bricks and mortar have set, there will be the discovery that the computer age has lessened the last millennium's insistence that bigger is better.

But if higher taxes are not daunting, then lead the fight to build away. Can we count on your tax rebate being forwarded to the Library's next building fund?

Anonymous said...

"Town Board needs to concentrate on maintaining its own playing field."


1) Eliminate non-essential positions.

2) Focus on baseline municipal services.

ed krauss said...

6/17 12:18

I don't know what you meant, but we don't have a funeral home for our Asian brothers, American Indian brothers, African American brothers and any and all other brothers.

Are you a male chauvanist? What about a catering hall for our Asian sisters, American Indian sisters, African American sisters,and any and all other (couldn't find a word to rhyme with) sisters.

Anonymous said...

Mr Samis -
You have NO credentials in the fields of either library science or education. Kindly shut up and stop displaying your ignorance. The Regents charter all libraries, as well as schools - and do a few really ridiculous things like handing out barber's licences.

Anonymous said...

8:43 Samis knows more about libraries than you will ever know. He followed the disastrous construction from the beginning to maybe the final curtin of the greatest fiasco[ aside from Taxter Ridge pk.]in the history ogf Greenburgh.
Naturally since you are from the library board you would like to shut him up.
Think again.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we charge for parking. Wouldn't be the first Library to do so. Also, have a outside agency collect the money from the meters.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that employees from the community center do thier laundry at "dirty laundry" while on duty ???? I saw it myself.

good job commish, keep hiring the winners!!!

Anonymous said...

How much longer will it take this town to realize that there are so many no show jobs at the center.

You have a family person or a good friend you have a job.

Our town board should close this center it has been stealing the tax payers money for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the library doesn't teach reading - your posting completely missed the point.

Anonymous said...

Why nothing posted here since the 12?

CONTACT: Press Office
(518) 474-4015 FOR RELEASE:
June 12, 2008

DiNapoli: Officials Overcharged Residents and Did Not Get Necessary Approvals for Greenburgh Sewer District

Proper state approvals were not obtained and the public was not notified when Greenburgh town officials authorized a nearly quarter million dollar cost overrun for Sewer District #4, according to an audit released by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit also found that due to miscalculations by town officials, certain residents have been over charged since 1992. Others have been under charged.

“Officials must take care not to bypass normal approval processes when it comes to spending the public’s money,” said DiNapoli. “This is particularly true in cases when the people directly affected – the taxpayers – are supposed to be updated about a project’s progress.”

The audit covers the period of 1979 – when the district was first constructed – to 2007. The unauthorized cost overrun occurred after 1982 when several payments were made between 1983 and 1989.

Auditors found that town officials:

Did not obtain the proper approval from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), or notify District residents, when they expended an estimated $220,000 in sewer district construction costs;
Did not implement appropriate internal controls to ensure that town officials updated benefit units when residents subdivided or improved their properties;
Over charged certain district residents by $26 for the 2007 annual assessment, and auditors estimate that the average resident would have saved $427 during the period 1989 to 2007 on sewer assessment charges; and
The town failed to charge five District residents for assessment charges since 1988.
DiNapoli recommended that town officials:

Obtain the Comptroller’s approval before authorizing cost overrun expenditures;
Develop internal controls to ensure that sewer assessments adequately cover capital costs;
Clearly explain to the public the need for sewer assessments and hook-in fee changes;
Accurately assess charges to sewer users; and
Review the town’s other 18 sewer districts to be sure similar problems don’t exist there.
Town officials for the most part agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations and indicated they would take corrective action.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the state comptroller's office would be interested in leasing space from the library? Seems like they are spending a lot of time in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

This is just the beginning for the state comptrollers stay in Greenburgh. The next one to come in will be the Attorney Generals' office.

We have become a town that needs plenty of investigative proceedures to see where and how our money is and was spent.

If this is the only way that the residents can be heard so be it.
We have reached a point where we need all the state and federal interventions that we can get to change the way things have been done for too many years.

Feiner just being Feiner - yet again. said...

Sorry to disappoint but the AG's office isn't interested.
1. Paul Feiner is considered a joke in Albany. So long as he threatens no other elected politico, he is viewed as a purely local problem.
2. There is no political leverage to be gained by investigating anything in Greenburgh. The number of qualified voters is below the threshold to motivate sitting politicians to prod overworked and understaffed independent investigators to act.
3. The shenanigans of the Greenburgh Housing Authority (with almost NO registered voters among its tenants) were, for many years, aided and abetted by the Town Board and Supervisor Feiner. The lack of written records or contracts makes an independent investigation a waste of time - when the only "records" are recollections, there is little evidence available for prosecutors.
4. Albany-based politicos believe that if Feiner were truly abhorrent to the electorate, he wouldn't have survived for 9 terms.
5. Washington-based politicos have no idea where or what Greenburgh is - let alone who's in charge.
I think a change in the Town Charter is the answer. Let's make the office of Supervisor an hereditary position and the Town Council positions should be appointed by the Lord of the Manor (the new title for Town Supervisor).
That way, we are insured of saving money by eliminating elections, and the Lord will have no one to blame but himself if he has opposition from council. The proposed motto for the Office of the Lord of the Manor: Apres moi le deluge.

correction said...

the deluge is already here.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think that this town is not and cannot be investigated by the Attorney General.
Think again.///////

Anonymous said...

Dear 4:59 -
Sure, Greenburgh could be investigated - if anybody cared, whcih, sadly they don't.

Anonymous said...

The library is not even opened for business and someone is looking to lease some space.
Why not bring in the courts?
Switch the buildings,,the library takes over the court and visa versa.
The white elephant will make a great looking courthouse.
Look at the money that the town would save.
If it's too big for the courts you can lease part to the state and bring in the motor vehicle bureau.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine having a motor vehicle office right in your own back yard.
This would be a great service to all in Greenburgh.
How about it.

Anonymous said...

The representatives of the library said at todays work session that they could not lease any part of the library to bring in revenue.

Where do these people think the money will be coming from .Yes some voted for the library expansion but take a survey now as to how many people want to be taxed even more just for maintaining the building.
They never thought out how much the maintenance would be.
They cannot expect the residents to fill these bills .

Anonymous said...

The library board must think that people can be fooled over and over again.
We all did not vote on this monster size of a library. Why not ask all those in the voting area what they think about the surprise maintenenance fees that will have to be paid by us the taxpayer.
We did not need such an oversized library.
What happens if all these rooms are not used?
Will the the services be consolidated in one room.
Is the library going to be heated by the hot air given off by the library board?
Will the library depend on the rain to wash the windows from the outside and will the book borrower have to wash the windows from the inside before he or she can borrow a book or a tape.
These are some thoughts to think about since the money for maintenance will not be coming from the taxpayers.
Eventually there will be a tax rebellion here in Greenburgh because no one will make the necessay cuts to bring down next year budget and also the years to follow.
If they say that we will have a normal tax hike in two or three years don't believe it.
Our taxes will be doubled digets for a few years tocome.
As far as taxes go our goose is cooked.