Government

Budget committee recommends new library budget

| Joanne Cole |

In near-record time, the budget committee voted Thursday to recommend a library budget of $102,033 to the board of selectmen.  The budget would cover the library director and assistant librarian positions at 36 hours per week with benefits and is the amount proposed by the board of selectmen at their most recent meeting. 

Town manager Brenda Fox-Howard had sent the budget committee a spreadsheet pricing out alternative staffing scenarios, but members focused exclusively on the ’36 and 36′ budget of $102,033.  Discussion was brief. Steve Libby and Jean Libby wanted to know whether that funding would be adequate for contingencies, including possible maximum health benefits for library staff and any added costs of re-opening and running the library with Covid precautions. 

Fox-Howard was reassuring, noting that leeway is built into the budget and adding that she has also been working with FEMA to secure Covid funds, discussions that she said “are going pretty well.” 

Assuming the proposed budget passes, Fox-Howard said, she hopes for a minimum of 30 open hours per week when the library re-opens. Some staff time will be needed for cleaning and set-up without patrons in the building, she cautioned.

With questions answered and fewer than 20 minutes run off the clock, the committee members in attendance voted 4-1 (Steve Libby voting no) to recommend a library budget of $102,033 to the board of selectmen. About a dozen citizens followed the October 15 meeting on Zoom. 

Attention now shifts to the board of selectmen, which will finalize a library budget warrant article to go to voters.  The board next meets Monday October 19 at 7 pm on Zoom. For Zoom login codes, email Sharlene Myers at smyers@newgloucester.com

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