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Richmond Library vote to include tax levy increase of $13.8K, two board seats

By Joanne Beck

A proposed budget of $1,696,912 for Richmond Memorial Library includes a property tax levy of $1,395,283, an increase of $13,814 for the 2024-25 school year, and goes up for vote on May 2.

The Batavian has sent several questions regarding the budget to Library Director Beth Paine, and will provide an updated article once responses are received. 

Paine said in the budget newsletter that she looks forward to upcoming programs and initiatives.

“As I look forward in 2024 and continuing into 2025, I see our continuing update projects for technology, a jam-packed Summer Reading Program, some brand new and innovative programs for all ages, like our new Minecraft Mondays that start on April 15, and some outdoor projects to enhance the beauty and use of space on the library’s property. And I am happy to report that even with all of these amazing updates, the Board of Trustees has been able to keep our budget increase to only 1%,” she said. “Our main goal is to not only provide Batavia residents with an open and free library to visit to check out a book, but also a community center where you can learn about everything from how to open an email account to how to create a journal, to getting help filing your taxes. We thank you for your consistent support and for allowing us to continue to serve you and the entire Batavia community.”

The budget is an increase of $15,753. One main question is about how the budget is outlined on the library’s website, but does not include the prospective tax rate increase to coincide with that $13,814 levy increase. How will this affect taxpayers?

The library has a robust race this year for the board, with three candidates running for two seats vacated by Board President Jessica Ecock Rotondo and Norm Argulsky. Those candidates are:

Christina Mortellaro

Christina Mortellaro is a native Batavian and lover of libraries. She is interested in becoming a Library Trustee because she firmly believes that public libraries are cornerstones of democracy, keepers of history, and providers of equitable access to information and space in a community.

Christina is the current Director of the TRIO Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC) at SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC), a federally-funded college access program that supports adults who are low-income and potential first-generation students throughout Western New York. She holds an MSEd in Higher Education Administration from SUNY Brockport and a dual BA in English and Communication from SUNY Geneseo.

Prior to working as the director of AEOC, Christina was an Assistant Director and Student Advisor with the TRIO Upward Bound program at SUNY GCC, a similar program for high school students. Before working in higher education, Christina served two terms with Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA, a different federally funded program working to alleviate the effects of poverty in Rochester, NY.

Christina currently serves as a Board Member At Large for the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education, Inc. (AEEE), a professional association that supports college access professionals at 125 colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey. She will transition to be AEEE’s Western New York Representative this fall.

Other current and relevant volunteer experience includes being a current volunteer with Richmond Memorial Library’s “Books Sandwiched In” committee, serving on the executive board of GCC’s Inclusive Excellence Committee, and being a former 13-year volunteer with HOBY Leadership.

In her spare time, Christina loves to spend time with family, friends, and the cats in her life. She loves to read, write, craft, travel, and support the arts.

Delipe Oltramari

Felipe Oltramari has been a resident of the City of Batavia for the past 17 years. Along with his wife, they have raised two daughters in Batavia. Felipe works as the Director of Planning for Genesee County and has been working for the department for over 20 years. Felipe graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo and received a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, concentrating in Environmental and Community Land Planning, from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). He is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and accredited with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNUa).

John Roach

John Roach is from Kenmore, in Erie County. He moved to Batavia in 1974, when he started working for New York State.

He retired from the New York State Department of Corrections as a Senior Counselor after 36 years, starting out as a Correction Officer at Attica. He also worked at the Wyoming, Orleans and Albion Correctional Facilities.

John is a Vietnam War Veteran who served as a Military Police Investigator. He then joined the US Army Reserve and retired after 32 total service as a Master Sergeant, working in Facility Management for the Division Engineer. Other positions in the Reserve were Nuclear Security, Drill Sergeant, Instructor, Training Evaluator and Division Engineer Office.

John was a volunteer with the local Boy Scouts for 29 years.

He served on the City of Batavia Charter Commission twice and on the Mall Operating Committee one term.

John believes in public libraries as a necessary part of a community and wants to help keep ours going.

The vote on May 2 will ask citizens to say yes or no to the tax levy of $1,395,283, and to vote for two out of the three candidates for a three-year term. 

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