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Ossining Library Hosts Candidate Forum Monday

OSSINING, N.Y. – With a budget vote and new board member election a month away, hope and uncertainty surround the Ossining Public Library .

The library board is going through some changes with three seats available on its board. The library is hosting a candidate forum Monday, which also marks the last day to file petitions. The current board recently agreed to a budget proposal increase to $3,651,479, up from the previous budget of $3,622,016. Both the trustee candidate election and the board’s budget vote are set for May 15. Board President Art Jay, who’s also running for re-election on one of the open seats, said he understands the public has questions about this year’s budget.

“Last year we cut 14 hours and a lot of programs and the public really felt it,” Jay said. “So we’re trying to restore two of those hours in this budget. This is something the public has been asking us for a lot this year and we want to be able to offer it.”

The Ossining Public Library serves 34,230 residents in the Ossining Union Free School District in the town and village of Ossining, Briarcliff Manor and Yorktown. While residents in Briarcliff Manor and Yorktown are still double-taxed for libraries and will see differences, the average per capita annual cost would be $105.21, up from $102.89 this year.

Because of extenuating circumstances related to retirement costs, the board is allowed a tax levy increase higher than the 2 percent cap. The board is proposing a 2.26 percent increase, which translates to an average per capita cost increase of $2.32. Jay said he’s almost certain residents will OK the $2 increase.

“Our tax levy has not increased in recent years and we’ve had to cut things because they didn’t fit,” Jay said. “Everyone felt the pinch of the last budget defeat and a lot of people have been telling us it was too much. So I have faith that it’s going to pass.”

In anticipation of Monday’s candidate forum, former trustee Lucinda Manning was out Thursday afternoon collecting signatures. Manning, who carries with her more than 30 years of experience as a professional librarian, said she’s hopeful her perspective will help with the tough decisions ahead.

“It will be a pleasure for me, as an experienced librarian, to work again with (Director Jim Farrell) and staff to help plan for our library’s future and programs in the years ahead,” Manning said. “I will withstand any pressures to restrict access or prevent equal library services for all and will have the courage to plan creatively for the library’s future.”

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