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Council Approves Increased Library Budget



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Council Approves Increased Library Budget

By Steve Bigham

The Legislative Council Wednesday approved a $730,000 budget request from the Cyrenius H. Booth Library. The library’s budget is up $48,000 (six percent), which library board members say is due mainly to increased personnel and employee benefits.

The library’s total operating budget for 2001-2002 is in the area of $960,000

Richard Sturdevant of the library board of directors said the board made up the budget last fall, before heating prices went through the roof. He is concerned that the $10,000 in that line item may not be enough.

Council member Melissa Pilchard urged the library board to consider increasing the percentage of town-elected directors since the town is paying approximately 80 percent of the library budget. Currently, the town appoints only one-third of the members on the board. The remaining members are all appointed by the board itself.

Council member Will Rodgers suggested the library board include what it expects to get in donations from the Friends of the Library, a figure never included in its proposed budget. Board member Joe Humeston said the board could not put that figure in since it has no information as to what the Friends might give. In the current year, the Friends of the Library have given a total of $59,000, much of which was raised at the annual Labor Day book sale.

The council also voted on several other line items within the administration portion of the town budget. It approved requests from the town clerk, social services, tax collector, registrars, finance, computer center, Commission on Aging, Town Hall Board of Managers, social security, pension fund, professional organizations, insurance, the Health District, etc. The land use budget of $503,215 was also approved.

Newtown Youth Services was seeking its second straight $30,000 increase from the town and ended up getting a $20,000 increase to $130,000. The council also approved a 150 percent increase to the Family Counseling Center’s budget, bumping the line item from $20,000 in the current year to $50,000 for next year. The counseling center’s total budget for next year is $350,000, 50 percent of which will be raised through fundraising.

On Thursday of this week, the council was scheduled to take up other sections of the budget, including police, fire, public works, Parks & Recreation, etc. The council is also expected to approve a three- percent increase to the first selectman’s salary.

Next Wednesday, the council will hear from the Board of Education, as well as the Conservation Commission, both of which have expressed concern about cuts in their respective budgets. That meeting will begin at 8 pm and will be held in the middle school auditorium.

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