MAHOPAC, N.Y. - On Tuesday, June 4, residents of the Mahopac School District will be asked to go to the polls to approve the Mahopac Public Library’s budget and elect four members to its board of trustees.
The $3,034,392 budget is up less than 1 percent over last year’s spending package.
“The biggest part of our budget is our staff. We have a great staff and they do a lot within the building,” said Michele Capozzella, library director. “It’s about 50 percent of the budget. That’s typical of a service organization. If you take the staff out of it, we are just a big box.
“We have this building to maintain and it’s 15 years old now,” she continued. “And we want to provide services. We have changed to meet the community. We had community conversations and asked, what do you want Mahopac to be, and figured out what we can fit in and give the people what they want.”
The budget remains under the state-imposed tax cap.
Five people will vie for four seats on the board of directors, including two incumbents. Here’s a brief look at who is on the ballot:
Baranowski has worked in finance and accounting since being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1985. He has extensive experience in budgeting, investing and general finance management. He would like to use his skills to strengthen the services offered by the library.
He is vice president of the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency and has served as an MSA coach; an active supporter of local Boy and Girl Scouts; and a CCD instructor at St. John’s.
Costello is an incumbent board member. She is a criminal defense attorney with the Putnam County Legal Aid Society. She is an advocate on behalf of the indigent and those struggling with addiction.
Costello was elected to the board in 2015 and serves as its vice president. She has twice chaired the Advancement and Public Relations Committee and has chaired the Board Development Committee.
Montuori is a social studies teacher at Horace Greely High School in Chappaqua where he’s taught since 2000. He has an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in sociology with a minor in journalism from SUNY Cortland.
He founded the Kirk Lake Watershed Association and was a board member of Concerned Citizens of Mahopac/Carmel. He’s resided in Mahopac for 30 years.
Saraswat has been a Mahopac resident for 14 years. He is a computer science researcher and has worked in the areas of artificial intelligence and social computing and led major projects at Xerox, PARC, AT&T Labs, and IBM TJ Watson. He has also taught computer and social network classes in middle and elementary school.
He believes his experience working with a variety of people in both large and small companies, schools and universities, will enable him to be an effective board member.
Weiss, another board of trustee incumbent, is a certified financial planner and chief compliance officer at Weiss Financial Group in Mahopac. He currently serves as chair of the library’s Finance Committee and was a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee. He grew up in Mahopac and is raising his children here.
“They are very invested in the community and a great board to work with,” Michele Capozzella said.
Capozzella said she was excited that the race is contested this year and that more people seem to be showing an interest in the library board.
“We started doing board information sessions, these hourlong sessions where people can come in and I do a short presentation that tells people what to expect on the board of trustees,” she said. “We answer questions and the sessions have gone a long way toward getting people interested. We got a really great response this year. Everyone’s goal is to get people invested in the library.”
Debra Feiman, an administrative assistant, said they know first-hand how important the library is to the community because its patrons have told them so.
“February was Love Your Library Month,” she said. “We came up with a postcard, and then set up a tent on the first floor and set up tables. We put the postcards out there and asked people to share their library stories. We collected them and there were some wonderful things people had to say. It was an incredible and meaningful response.”
Here are a few of the responses:
“The library makes me calm. It helps me learn. Everyone is nice.”
“We like to come by the library and buy books and videos in the Book Barn. We also love to go to the kids' room and read and play with the toys with the other kids.”
“The Mahopac library has always been a very special place for my family. My son has grown up here. The best librarians in the world! Summers are great.”
“Our family recently moved to Mahopac and have joined this wonderful library. Our daughter adored the library building and staff members. Thank you for this tremendous resource!”
School district residents can vote Tuesday, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., at the library, 668 Route 6.