Error in meter reading reveals $8,000 monthly electric bill for library budget


On Wednesday, March 27, the Bayport-Blue Point Library hosted an informational budget meeting in anticipation of the annual budget and trustee vote to be held on Wednesday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

With an increase of nearly 12 percent, the 2024-2025 budget will be $452,011 more than the previous year ($3,861,412 vs. $4,313,423)

The main reason for the marked increase is the library’s utilities.

Originally, the electric bill from PSEG was thought to be around $500 a month, but once the meter was updated and corrected, the library discovered that the monthly electric bill was actually anywhere between $8,000 to $10,000.

This cost is reflected in the 2024 budget, along with the back payment of $86,000 due to PSEG undercharging that is being paid in $1,500 installments with no interest.

“We thought the solar panels were just magical in cutting our rates,” said library director, Mike Firestone. “The rate we were paying here was lower than the much smaller previous building the library was in.”

In addition, warranties for other utilities have started to expire and new contracts will need to be made for the HVAC and septic units, both of which are typically three-year contracts.

Operations (+$94,258, approximately 53 percent increase) and facilities (+$116,140, approximately 9.3 percent increase) were calculated based on these developments.

The additional expenditures were added to budgets for salaries (+$107,888, approximately 7.6 percent increase, based on three percent inflation adjustment increases), employee benefits (+$78,812, approximately 13.4 percent increase), the latter of which involved costs to health insurance and pension/retirement accounts that were mandated by the state.

There are currently eight full-time employees and part-time employees have increased due to library usage necessitating coverage of different sections (e.g., the children, teen, and adult library sections each need library staff servicing patrons during busy evening and weekend hours).

In 2023, the Bayport-Blue Point Library had 128,485 patrons and over 4,500 room bookings.

“It’s absolutely packed and busy every night of the week,” said Firestone. “It’s all different age groups.”

“We do good work for the community, but we are very conservative and mindful of how we spend tax dollars,” said board of trustees president, Ronnie Devine.

Firestone has said the library is constantly looking for grants or other streams of revenue, as Bayport-Blue Point’s perceived affluent demographics often leave them uncompetitive for government programs. The library’s current state aid for the last 11 years has been between $3,200 and $4,100.

The old library building on Blue Point Avenue may possibly have a buyer and proceeds from the sale would recoup expenses.

With the bond rate being 1.26 percent and interest 3 percent to 4 percent, Firestone said that money left over in escrow from the sale will likely be put into investment.

“This is one of the tightest budgets I’ve ever worked on,” said Firestone. “There is no fluff.”

There are no propositions this year (other than adopting the budget) and current trustee, Jason Borowski, will be running for his seat unopposed.

The term will be for five years, beginning July 1, 2024 and ending June 30, 2029.

Borowski was appointed to this current position in fall 2023 after a trustee stepped down.

“I believe in public service, in financial and fiscal responsibility. We have a wide gamut of income in our community and I want to minimize the impact by using our tax dollars efficiently. I really believe in this library. All libraries,” said Borowski about his impetus to be trustee.


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