By Sadef Ali Kully
The Queens Public Library held a budget proposal hearing in front of a small audience at the Queens Flushing branch on Main Street this week.
The board and most of its trustees listened to a handful of Queens library members in front of an audience of about 40 people. The only political representative who spoke was from the office of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
“If we stay at status quo, then we have to look to cut in other places,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and chief executive officer of the Queens Public Library.
The $142.4 million budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year includes expenses such as technology, operating costs, fund-raising expenses, new books and other library materials and running community programs.
“I spent the whole day at the library today. There was a crowd out of the door,” said Kevin Burns, in his 70s, a library user from Kew Gardens.
The Queens library is asking for an $18.1 million increase from the city budget to restore its six-day service to all 65 Queens branches, hire an additional 250 people, purchase 120,000 books, and implement community programs .
The preliminary state and city budgets are $2.8 million less for the library than the funding for this fiscal year.
In the past year, the Queens Library has been in the limelight for its financial mismanagement controversy over the former president and his expenses, trustees forced to resign, a dismissed lawsuit against the borough president and a new state law that gives city control over appointing board members.
Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio have reconfigured the board with new appointments.
A new board member and a new hire were announced.
Retired State Supreme Court Justice Augustus Agate was appointed to the Queens Library Board by Katz and Jonathan Chung, former chief of staff to former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Bayside) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), will serve as director of government affairs.
“Justice Agate has extensive experience in making tough decisions from the bench, so his strong judicial temperament will serve him well as a member of the Queens Library Board of Trustees,” Katz said.
Agate was elected to the State Supreme Court in November 2004 and served on the court’s Civil Term bench in Queens County until his retirement last year.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull