Massena Public Library budget includes 'drastic cuts' because of major workers comp increase, director says
Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 11:30 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- The workers compensation increase is causing the Massena Public Library to make “drastic cuts” for 2018, their director told the town board on Wednesday night.

“Given we’re getting a tenfold increase (in worker’s compensation payments) and less revenue from taxes than last year, I had to speak with my board and make drastic cuts to the budget,” library director Elaine Dunne told the board at a budget work session.

Under the new formula, which is based on risk, St. Lawrence County will pay about $700,000 less toward the insurance program compared to the previous year, while the town of Massena will pay $962,000, a $700,000 increase over their current payment of $258,000.

Town Supervisor Joe Gray said the increase was spread out between all town departments.

“Townwide we went from several thousand to $40,000, so we’ve had a similar spike for the rate of town hall employees, very little risk, and the highway department,” Gray said.

“It would be really bad if you saw hospital and [Massena Electric Department],” Councilman Tom Miller said.

The library’s newest budget calls for just over $20,000 in cuts from the supervisor’s proposal, including a $15,000 reduction to their resources.

“As far as resources and equipment … bread and butter of the library. IT’s our library books, it’s our programming cost … summer reading program, so they’re all going to be affected,” Dunne said. “After revisiting this over and over, I think we’re going to have to have a very large library fundraiser sometime during the year” to make up for resources cuts.

She said library officials opted for the cuts to preserve their fund balance. Gray’s initial proposal called for using $54,900 in fund balance, leaving them with $29,440. Dunne’s proposal, which the board adopted as part of the preliminary budget, uses $33,350 and leaves $50,990.

Dunne’s new version of the library budget follows an argument between her and Gray over funding at the Oct. 18 town board budget hearing. Dunne at that hearing said she was concerned that the funding under Gray’s proposed budget would leave them using a big chunk of their fund balance and leaving the reserve account dangerously low.