REDINGTON BEACH – Local library lovers know that the Gulf Beaches Public Library is the place to go. A fact enthusiastically conveyed by Maggie Cinnella, director of the library, at the Redington Beach Town Commission meeting on Aug. 5.
Cinnella told commissioners the library board approved a $500,000 budget for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
“Believe it or not, we were able to decrease the budget a little bit due to some maneuvering around of money,” Cinnella told the commission.
She cited a decrease in some insurance fees, as well as a roof installed a couple of years ago that has reduced overall energy costs.
“I’m happy that the board has allowed me to give a raise to all the employees,” she said. “We have a very dedicated staff.”
She added the library board is asking Redington Beach, based on the town’s population, to contribute $25,000, which, she said, represents 5 percent of the library’s entire budget. The town’s contribution for the current year is $23,000.
“We’ve been increasing the cities and towns what they pay every year so we aren’t dipping into reserves so much,” Cinnella said. “We’ve been dipping into those for the past five years and we are depleting them slowly, but hopefully we won’t have to deplete them too much more.”
Among the highlights Cinnella cited include:
• Among Redington Beach’s 1,400 official residents, 850 (58 percent) have active library cards. “That represents 58 percent of your population, which is really high. So that’s a great statistic to have,” Cinnella said.
• RB residents also have checked out 9,000 items so far this year.
• About 100,000 items, physical and electronic (e-books, audio books, music, etc.), have been circulated. Plans are underway for streaming videos and movies.
• 60,000 patrons have visited the library over the past year to check out material, use the computers and attend various programs.
• The library has hosted 300 programs for children and adults drawing 3,800 people. The story time programs for babies and toddlers have proven especially popular. “I don’t know where all these babies are coming from, but they’re coming to our library, which is good because we want to get them young and to be readers for life and library users for life,” Cinnella said.
• Volunteering has increased by over 20 percent, especially among teens who are participating in the Florida Bright Futures college scholarship program that requires students to perform a certain number of hours for community service.
• Approximately 25,000 new items have been added to the current collection while old and outdated materials have been weeded out.
“Redington Beach has always been an active supporter of the library. I think your residents really appreciate your giving money to the library to support us,” Cinnella said.
Town Park upgrades
The Redington Beach Parks Board wants the Town Commission to earmark money for improvements to the area parks, especially for the empty lot adjacent to Town Park.
The Park Board is looking into purchasing six pieces of outdoor exercise equipment for $10,000 as quoted by TriActive America, a company specializing in outdoor fitness equipment.
The price does not include an additional $3,500 installation charge. Included would be two air walker pluses, two air striders, one rider and one rowing machine.
The pieces of equipment are identical to those in Redington Shores, which Mayor Nick Simons suggested viewing before making a final selection.
Additionally, the Park Board has proposed putting up a fence around the property, along with buying a shade sail to cover some of the playground equipment as well as adding a new shelter – location to be determined.
The commission is awaiting bids for these potential projects.
The town purchased the lot located just south of Town Park at Gulf Boulevard and 164th Avenue at the beginning of the year from Redington Shores for the purpose of adding open space for recreational use.
In general, the commissioners expressed approval of the plans and budgeting for it accordingly.
Commissioner Tom Dorgan who was absent from the meeting but participated via telephone said, “I would like to see a comprehensive plan rather than just putting stuff out there.” He said he would rather the amount be a total figure rather than separate line items.
Commissioner Fred Steiermann disagreed. “At the Park Board meeting, they really took their time to identify the projects they’d like to see. I think it would be prudent for us to have a direction on what we are spending our money for [rather] than just putting money in the budget.”
Any money spent will be taken from the capital outlay account and anything that is not will be returned to that account.
“We spent $300,000 to acquire the property to develop it and make it almost a showcase, I don’t think that’s an exorbitant number to spend,” said Simons.
Commissioner Mark Deighton said he anticipated the total expenditures for the project to be around $75,000.
Ultimately, the board unanimously agreed, depending on final costs, to green light the improvements in question. The matter will again be discussed at the next commission meeting later this month.
Trash collection contract
The trash pickup contract between the town and Progressive Waste Solutions continues to be tweaked providing for the continuation of twice-weekly side door service for waste and once a week curbside recycling.
The commission nixed the company’s original proposal for a switch to curbside pickup and providing customers with a 96-gallon container on wheels on the basis that, aside from costing more, might pose a hardship for elderly or infirm residents unable to maneuver it out to the street.
Residents living in a single-family home currently pay $15 per month for the service, and condo dwellers pay $8 per month. Under the new contract, the cost will rise the first year to $15.42 and 8.24, respectively.
Steiermann praised the service provided by the company but voiced concern about the contract’s inclusion of a maximum 2.5 percent raise for each year of the three-year contract. “I just have an issue with giving raises in advance without knowing,” he said.
Deighton, however, pointed out the town has not had a rate increase for trash pickup in six years. “They’ve been limping along,” he said.
Simons also noted that the town is not carrying the actual costs but passed along to the residents who are signed up for the service.
The contract the town maintains with Progressive Waste Solutions is set to expire at the end of September.
Town Attorney Robert Metz said he will continue to communicate with Progressive Waste Solutions and make any necessary changes or clarifications in the wording of the contract as directed by the commission.