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Budget Season Day One: Future of Rockville Public Library Uncertain

From the March 19th Town Council budget session broadcast live on Comcast Channel 96:

Last year, Rockville Public Library’s Board of Trustees demonstrated to the Town Council at a joint public meeting that it would close in five years unless the Town gave it increased financial assistance.  Two recessions had caused the Library’s endowment to fall from $9 million in the 1990s to under $2 million now.  Around 2006, the Library realized it could no longer operate on investment and interest income and started spending its endowment to remain open.  At the rate it was spending its endowment, the Library would deplete its funds and close in 2020.

In 2015, the Town Council refused to give the Library an increase in support, maintaining it at $310,000, a little under one-third of the Library’s operating budget.  However, the Mayor did establish the “Mayor’s Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Library Finances” which started meeting in June of 2015.

Unfortunately, the Task Force had no report to share with the Council when the Library’s budget was considered on March 19, 2016.  The Library requested $$779,825 because that would enable it to operate without further depleting its endowment.  The Mayor recommended $450,000 because he did not want to go over 50% of the Library’s annual budget, which he believes would require much closer Town supervision of the Library.  The Council approved the Mayor’s recommendation.

The additional $150,000 will not keep the library from closing in four years.  When the “Mayor’s Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Library Finances” will have its final report ready is unknown.  What it will recommend to the Mayor is unknown.  What the Mayor will do with the recommendation is unknown.

The following budgets passed with no disagreements except for the Connecticut Legal Services budget which was increased from $2,000 to $3,000 on a 7-5 vote.


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