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LOCKPORT – The Lockport Public Library is seeking a 1.57 percent tax increase as it reduces its staff by not replacing retirees.

Library Director Beverly J. Federspiel said Friday that the library also is saving money through fewer purchases of large reference books, some of which have either migrated online or ceased publication.

The library, at 23 East Ave., is hosting a public information meeting on its proposed 2014-15 budget at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The voting, open to any registered voter who lives in the Lockport City School District, will be held in the library from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 24.

The tax is charged to all property owners in the school district. It is collected on the school tax bills. Last year’s rate was 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The total amount being collected is proposed to increase by $21,627 to a total of just under $1.4 million. The spending side of the budget is rising by $10,610 to a proposed total of almost $1.62 million.

Federspiel said that the library has 43 employees but that only 13 of them are full-timers, including herself. Two full-time clerks have retired in the last year and won’t be replaced, leaving the library with five full-time librarians and four full-time clerks.

The other full-timers are her administrative assistant and two maintenance workers, Federspiel said. “We haven’t replaced any of our full-timers. We can’t afford to,” she said.

The budget shows an $11,390 reduction for the purchase of library materials, all of which is attributed to the cutbacks in reference books. Federspiel said that there is no reduction in the purchase program for circulating fiction and nonfiction books, which is budgeted at $166,810 for the coming year.

On the other side of the ledger, the cost of employee benefits is rising by $12,349, to $353,470. “We have two places to take money out of: staff and materials,” Federspiel said.

The library also faces building maintenance costs on its original 1939 structure facing East Avenue. It spent $50,000 last year on masonry repairs and the reconstruction of a chimney, Federspiel said. Half of the money came from the library’s capital reserve fund and the rest from a state Public Library Construction Grant.

The library still needs an estimated $90,000 worth of masonry repairs, and it is again hoping the state will cover half, Federspiel said.

No change in the library’s hours is planned under the new budget: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 to 5 Fridays, and 10 to 5 Saturdays.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com