Sunday, June 12, 2016

Leonia Library - reductions caused by budget cut


Due to budget reductions in the library's 2016 municipal budget ($103,000 less than in 2015), the Board of Trustees has authorized the following changes in service.  Working closely with Library Director Matthew Latham, we have done our best to minimize the impact on quality of service while adjusting to fiscal realities.

     As of July 1, 2016, the library will close evenings at 8pm rather than 9pm.
     The library will be closed Saturdays in July as well as, in the past, in August.
     As of September 3, 2016, Saturday opening will be 10am - 2pm. The library will remain closed on Sundays.
     The Local History Room will not have public opening hours as of July 1, 2016.   Requests for access will be by appointment.
     There will be only one public service point for public assistance on the library's main (upper) level as of July 1, 2016.
     Library events and programs will also see reductions.

These new policies result from the necessity to eliminate staff, since labor costs represent the highest portion of a budget and the library cannot run as before without staff to do so. The library will lose one full-time staff member (reducing full-time staff from six to five); our part-time archivist; and more than 60% of part-time worker hours. The library has also reduced every operating expense, including books and AVs, to a minimum and is using non-municipal funds to supplement operating expenses wherever possible. Unfortunately, these non-municipal funds cannot be used for salaries.

Given new funding levels, the board believes that these changes reflect the best possible adaptation.  Sundays are the slowest usage day, incur the highest labor cost due to higher Sunday rates, and are the most difficult to staff. The slowest hour of weekday usage is between 8pm and 9pm.  The Local History Room is of great value to the community and the collection will remain.  But since usage is low, access must now be by appointment only.  And library programs will necessarily be curtailed: remaining staff members will need to spend more time covering other essential tasks and have less time to plan, create, promote, and host programs.

The library board and staff will work to provide the highest level of service possible to the community.  We will work to continue to offer innovative and diverse services.  We will restore whatever we can with additional funding and/or donations.  We deeply appreciate the support and care the Leonia community has provided the library.

Please feel free to address questions to the board in care of

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Leonia in death spiral

At the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, Leonia's Mayor stated “Leonia is a community in decline”.     Matthew McGrath of reports, "A casualty of this decaying financial environment is the beloved public library, which is set to lose $103,000 in municipal contributions from its budget this year. The proposed cuts will force layoffs, end popular programs and limit operating hours." Read his full article at

Update: The Mayor distributed his slide presentation on a private listserv, "Leonia Talks"

To see the presentation, join the list and read the archive.

How to join
  • LeoniaTalks is a Yahoo group. To join, go to the Yahoo page for Leonia Talks and click on Join Group. 
  • They recommend you create a Yahoo email address so you can log in and search the Yahoo website for archived messages and read the uploaded files, including this presentation. 
  • You can choose receive emails as soon as they are posted or as a once a day daily digest.
  • Alternatively, you can read them on the Yahoo website.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Library Budget cuts - continued

Update from the LeoniaReads blog

As announced on the Leonia Talks list, tomorrow night (March 31st at 7:30PM), the Mayor will hold a Town Hall meeting at Leonia High School (100 Christie Heights) in the LHS Theater, and he will be "making a presentation regarding the municipal budget....At the conclusion of my presentation, I will open the floor to and facilitate questions and comments from attendees."

Included in his presentation, we hope the mayor will address questions about the proposed $125,000 cut to the library budget, including:
  • Whether cuts were proposed in other departments.
  • Is the 2016 Library budget cut proportional?
  • How have other departments fared between 2008 and 2015?
  • How DOES Leonia spend its money? What are the real numbers allocated to each department?
Here are some facts about the LIBRARY:
  • The Library budget was cut in 2008 (3 people lost their jobs) and has not returned to 2008 levels. In 2008, the Library budget was $840,464. In 2015, it was $817,982.
  • The Library has been well managed and is still ready to bear its share of the burden.
  • The Leonia Library is YOUR Community Center. About 3,000 attended library programs last year…people of all ages and socio-economic levels: seniors, children, teens. Let's keep it that way!
This is another opportunity to show support for the library while learning about Leonia's economic future.

Mayor announces Town Hall meeting about the budget

Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Leonia High School Little Theater. 
 Additional details were posted on a private listserv, "Leonia Talks".

To read the entire announcement, join the list and read the archive.

How to join
  • LeoniaTalks is a Yahoo group. To join, go to the Yahoo page for Leonia Talks and click on Join Group. 
  • They recommend you create a Yahoo email address so you can log in and search the Yahoo website for archived messages and read the uploaded files.
  • You can choose receive emails as soon as they are posted or as a once a day daily digest. 
  • Alternatively, you can read them on the Yahoo website

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dozens of residents rally in support of the Library

Leonia Life reports on the Council meeting of March 21, 2016.
The Library  is now facing a budget cut of $125,000 for 2016.  According to, "Mayor Judah Zeigler stressed that the spending plan, which is set to raise property taxes on a home assessed at the borough average of $432,634 by $70 and represents a 1.75 percent increase from last year, was not final and will likely reach the state's 2 percent cap on budget increases before a public hearing and adoption scheduled for May 2."
Photo: Protesters outside the meeting hold signs showing their support.
Read the full story

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Join the "Leonia Reads" email list for updates about the Leonia Public Library

Send an email to to be added to the email list.  They will issue occasional updates and invitations to events related to the Save Our Leonia Library movement.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A new citizen group "Leonia Reads" is created to support the Leonia Public Library

Learn how you can help to support the Leonia Public Library to prevent significant budget cuts. It may be deceptively quiet in the library, but it is run with professionalism and high efficiency.   Productivity and learning don't have to be showy.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Contact Council members prior to the Leonia Borough Council meeting on March 21 and ask them to reconsider their draconian cuts. If you'd like some talking points, please e-mail, and they will send them to you.

2. Sign the Save Leonia Library petition, which you'll find at the library. If you would like to receive your own copy of the petition to have friends and neighbors sign, please e-mail, and we will get a copy to you as soon as possible. Our goal is to obtain many signatures by Sunday, March 20, so please make every effort to sign the petition before Sunday!

3. Attend the Save the Library rally on MONDAY, MARCH 21 from 7:00PM-7:30PM

4. Go to the Leonia Borough Council meeting on Monday, March 21st at 7:30PM and share your concerns with the council.

Thanks so much for your support!


Write to:

Judah Zeigler

Greg Makroulakis - Council President
Mark Minichiello - Chair of Finance Committee
Darryl Whitter - on Finance Committee
Bernadette Flaim
Pasquale Fusco
Maureen Davis-Havlusch - on Finance Committee

Friday, March 11, 2016

Leonia budget delayed

As reported by Svetlana Shkolnikova in Leonia Life:  
"Faced with mounting public criticism of a proposed 25-percent funding cut to the Leonia Public Library, the governing body has delayed the introduction of the borough's 2016 budget to search for alternative cost-saving measures and will hold a special town hall meeting on finances at the end of the month."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rally to support our library

You are invited to meet outside the Borough Annex tomorrow, March 7th, from 7- 7:30 pm to show support for the restoration of library funding. As you probably know, the library budget is being threatened with a 25% cut, which would eliminate all programs, evening and weekend hours, 3 jobs and essentially cripple the hub of our community. The library is the heart of Leonia.

To quote a neighbor: "The library is a community in itself, a fabulous institution that provides not only education and culture and programs designed for all ages but also a sense of calm belonging. For many, it is a home away from home. A draconian cut in funds is certain to change the entire nature of the library and not for the good.”

Please come and bring a poster voicing your support! We will have petitions to sign and information about how to get involved. Children are heartily welcomed - this is their future!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Leonia Library to begin closing Sundays

As reported today at, the Leonia Public Library will begin closing on Sundays this month in anticipation of a proposed 25 percent cut to its 2016 budget, Board of Trustees President John Kendrick announced this week.

Friends of the Library send Letter to the Editor

Published March 4, 2016 in Leonia Life

Dear Leonia Life Editor,

We write to express our concern about the proposed cuts in funding to the Leonia Public Library addressed in your February 19th article “Council may cut funds to town library.”

It goes without saying that the Leonia Library has been an important information source and tremendous asset to our community. In addition to the study space and resources it provides, the Library also offers a variety of programs for children and teen education, adult and senior education, job seekers and the Korean community. And just last year, it opened the Makerspace, a workplace dedicated to the important initiative of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) education. This is just one example of how our Library has been working to fulfill/address the changing needs of our community. To learn that almost all of these programs would be eliminated, the collection budget would be reduced by 75%, the archive would close, and hours would be substantially reduced is very disheartening news.

We understand budget constraints, however, we are hopeful there will be further consideration or alternate solutions as the Library works through this process with our Mayor & Council. If you share our concerns and would like to voice and show your support [for our Library], please consider attending the Mayor & Council meeting on Monday, March 7th at 7:30pm at the Borough Annex.

Friends of the Leonia Library (FOLL)

Monday, February 29, 2016

A message from the Leonia Library Board President

At the Feb. 1, 2016 Borough Council Meeting, Mark Minichiello reported that in order to bring the 2016 proposed budget within the state mandated 2% tax levy cap, the Finance & Administrative Personnel Committee was recommending a series of ways to increase revenues as well as some reductions, including a reduction in the library budget of $225,000 from $840,000 to $615,000.
See the video of the Council Meeting.

On Feb. 3, 2016, the Council Finance Committee met with representatives of the library's Finance Committee and disclosed this information. It had been necessary to reduce the municipal budget by roughly $540,000, and the Council Committee decided to take $225,000 from the library (a 25% cut).

Our trustees were deeply troubled by this information, as we knew that the effect of such a cut would be devastating to the library. We were asked to assess just what the impact would be and we have done so.

We will continue to talk with the Council representatives and the Mayor--all in the effort to preserve the library. It is our duty as trustees to do that, a charge we take very seriously. We realize that the Mayor and Council take their charge equally seriously. We hope we can reach a solution that will not seriously harm the library.

Many of you have asked us what you should do. We will keep you posted as we see what is actually introduced on March 7. In the meantime, please do urge the Mayor and Council not to make this draconian cut to the library. This cut will make the library unrecognizable compared to what it is today. If you are a library user, it will deeply affect your life; if you are not a library user it will put your home at a devaluation risk, like all Leonians.

Some simple facts: The library's allocation is only 6% of the entire municipal budget, yet we are being asked to carry this disproportionate reduction. Of our budget, 84% is for salaries and benefits. A cut of $225,000 would necessitate personnel losses and would therefore reduce services greatly.

We recognize that in tough economic times everyone needs to tighten their belts. We have already done that. In contrast to what's been reported-our budget was cut almost $80,000 from 2008 to 2010 and still has not returned to 2008 levels. These cuts led to the loss of three full time positions. Unfortunately, we may have to do that again.

What would a $225,000 cut mean, more specifically?

Staff reductions will force us to do the following:
  1. Close the Children's Room at 5 p.m. This affects parent/children visits but also means no evening access to the downstairs meeting room. The downstairs floor will be unavailable for groups that currently use it for meetings. 
  2. Few, if any, early childhood education programs and classes and events for children, pre-teens, and teens can be held. 
  3. 50% to 75% reduction in purchases of new books, movies, music, and audiobooks. 
  4. Local history room closed indefinitely. 
  5. Significant reductions in library opening hours, including short Saturday hours. In addition, possible reductions in some morning and afternoon hours, and no Sundayopenings. 
  6. Elimination of job search classes, severely limited cultural events, limited research/information assistance, no notary service 
  7. No Makerspace 

One unfortunate immediate result of this budget situation is that we will have to close on Sundays as of March 6th. While we hope the Council will not institute these cuts, the likelihood of our being fully funded is low. Since we are already two months into 2016, we are concerned about fiscally managing the year and have taken this action. We will certainly restore Sundays if we can.

The Board and I will continue to give you information as we move through this process. We truly appreciate the support ofLeonians and your desire for us to continue the library's work. We need you now to stand with us.

John Kendrick

February 29, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Leonia library trustees seek compromise on budget cuts

Representatives from the Leonia Public Library are continuing to meet with borough officials to fight a proposed 25-percent funding cut to the library that could decimate many of its services this year. Reported by Svetlana Shkolnikova for

Friday, February 19, 2016

Leonia may cut funds to town library

After years of allocating nearly double the minimum required amount of funding to the Leonia Public Library, the borough is considering cutting its contribution by $225,000 this year to keep the municipal tax levy under the state's 2 percent cap. Read the story at

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Borough web site redesign stalled

As reported in The Record, "Members of the governing body and the borough administrator have had conference calls with the company, QScend Technologies, Inc., and discussed the need for more functionality in its design proposal."  See the artcle at

Monday, February 1, 2016

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Leonia Council election results

Democrats Bernadette Flaim and incumbent Darryl Whitter took hold of the two full-term seats on the council while Democrat Mark Minichiello beat Independent Maureen Havlusch for one two-year unexpired term. 

See more at  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Congressman Bill Pascrell to visit Leonia

Congressman Bill Pascrell will be visiting Leonia in November to accompany Mayor DeSimone and local store owners on a tour of the downtown business district. Also participating will be a representative of the New Jersey Small Business Association.

The purpose of the visit is to provide State officials with a greater understanding of the needs of the community and enlist their support in our efforts to increase commercial ratables and lighten the tax burden of homeowners.

Ninety percent of Leonia’s property tax receipts come from residential properties while only ten percent are derived from commercial ratables. A major objective of the current administration is to reduce this heavy burden and make it easier for long time Leonia residents to remain comfortably in their homes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Leonia Economic Development Committee news

Recently, members of the Leonia Economic Development Committee (EDC) met with the Directors of the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce to discuss plans for organizing the Leonia downtown business district. In addition to serving the local community, the Fort Lee Chamber functions as a regional organization to assist surrounding towns develop the structure to maintain a local Chamber of Commerce.

A Chamber of Commerce is the leading proponent of the business community on a broad range of issues that affect economic growth and prosperity. For this reason, the Leonia EDC has determined that before any plan can be considered for the improvement of our downtown business district it is critical to have a local business organization in place to participate in the process. Every town in New Jersey that has completed a successful development project has done so with the involvement of its business community.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Leonia's new Chief of Police - Tom Rowe!

As reported first by CliffviewPilot, 
"Surrounded by his family and a packed room of well-wishers, Thomas Rowe was sworn in tonight as Leonia’s next police chief".

Read the fully story at

Text of the official resolution follows

RES-2013-195: Appointing Tom Rowe as Police Chief
  • WHEREAS, the position of Chief of Police for the Borough of Leonia is vacant due to the retirement of the former Chief; and
  • WHEREAS, Borough of Leonia has advertised and received applications for the position of Chief of Police; and
  • WHEREAS, the Police Committee interviewed candidates for the position and hereby recommends that Thomas Rowe be appointed as Chief of Police effective immediately; and
  • WHEREAS, the Mayor hereby nominates Thomas Rowe for the position of Chief of Police; and
  • WHEREAS, the Council of the Borough of Leonia hereby confirms and ratifies the nomination of Thomas Rowe for the position of Chief of Police;
  • NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Thomas Rowe is hereby appointed by the Borough of Leonia as Chief of Police; and
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor and Borough Clerk are authorized to execute a contract memorializing the terms and conditions of employment with Chief Rowe.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Interim Report of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Information Technology

John Kender, Chair of the IT Committee, presented this report to the Mayor and Council on June 17, 2013


This is the second report of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Information Technology, on our activities during our second half-year of operation.

We recommend that the boro make a number of website changes, based on our interviews with boro personnel and on our survey of citizen website users. We recommend that the boro elicit a proposal from, and then contract with, PrimeMRM. This is based on their informal response to our discussions with them about our study. We find that this should result in a timely and inexpensive attainment of most of the objectives requested by boro staff and boro citizens. Total cost is estimated to be approximately $6000, for professional services exempt from RFP requirements.

We also summarize the status of the technology audit that we have started. We have responses from nearly all departments, and have begun analysis.

A summary of our monthly meetings concludes the report.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

League of Women Voters of Northern Valley Elects Board of Directors

Two well known Leonians,  Joyce Luhrs and Nike Prieston-Bach, were named as Vice-Presidents. Chris Sagona, a Park Ridge resident, was named a new director and appointed to the position of President.  Joyce and Nike will support the president's efforts to implement the organization's mission.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a World War II veteran, died this morning of viral pneumonia at age 89, his office said. The oldest member of the Senate, Lautenberg had struggled with health problems since late last year, when he missed several weeks of votes because of what he said was flu and bronchitis. Known as a fighter, he had become a rarely seen presence in Washington, D.C., beyond voting for gun-control legislation that failed in the Senate.

The death of Lautenberg, a Democrat who was the longest-serving senator in New Jersey history, creates a vacancy that Governor Christie, a Republican, will fill.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bergen County Awarded $500K Grant for Overpeck Park Project

Bergen County has received a $500,000 state Department of Transportation grant to pay for new walking paths in Overpeck Park. The project calls for a continuation of a paved pedestrian path and bridge along Overpeck Lake in Leonia and Palisades Park.

More at Fort Lee Patch