This budget is a 22 percent increase from the $6.4 million budgeted last year, but the proposed tax rate remains 2.9 cents per $100 of assessed value, equalized, largely due to the boom in ratables.
The regularly scheduled meeting of Jan. 18 was postponed a week due to a lack of quorum, but all five commissioners were on hand last week to approve Director Andrew Martin’s request, pending approval by freeholders of the library tax rate.
The biggest reason for added expenditures, said Martin, is in the area of branch development, including a total renovation of the branch in Lower Township.
Increases also are necessary for personnel, including health benefits, which are up about $120,000 from last year, he said.
Book materials are also up, he said, and “we are looking to buy more. It will be a three to four year project to clean out and upgrade the collection.”
Expenditures for vehicles are down, Martin said because “we won’t be buying a bookmobile.”
Plans have been in the works for over a year for a new branch in Woodbine as part of a project to add a new gym and technology room, as well as the library to Woodbine Elementary School.
Martin told commissioners that $400,000 had been set aside in last year’s budget for stocking and furnishing that new branch and that money has been carried over but the line item for branch development is $1.25 million this year and that’s not just for Woodbine.
“We want to start the process of completely renovating Lower,” said Martin, who has advised commissioners before that renovation and expansion of the branch located on Bayshore Road, across from the Lower Township municipal building, is necessary to meet increased demand for services there. The branch was given to the county in the 1980s.
The “branch is extremely successful,” Martin said.
The changes will take a “couple of years,” he said, and initially he wants to get an architect to explore how a meeting room can be added to the back of the building, if the township will allow such an expansion.
“We also want to change the inside,” said Martin, to make it more open by putting in lower shelves and removing closed spaces.
He said he met with Ed Carson, head librarian there, and his assistant, Ginny Sague, a few weeks ago to start the planning process.
“Right now it is difficult to add computers,” Martin said. “It’s quite a bit like a warehouse. They are up to 70,000 volumes and it was designed to hold 55,000.”
The collection should also be updated, he said.
“Maybe you can pave the parking lot,” said Commissioner Lawrence Allen.
“That is in the works,” said Martin.
“In order to build in the back we’ll have to give up little used parking,” Martin said.
“Any idea how large a branch will be in Woodbine?” asked Commissioner Anna Sule.
“Not terribly large,” said Martin. “About the size of Sea Isle City.”
Woodbine is currently selecting a contractor from five bids received Jan. 13 and the official statement on the size of the branch from the borough is that it will be 2,500 square feet.
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