Curtis Library

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Curtis Memorial Library and Cundy's Harbor and Orrs Island libraries

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Wording of the Warrant Article

 Note that there is no mention of the Budget Committee recommending (b).  That's because the selectmen decided at the last meeting that the town will support the total cost of library cards for full time and seasonal residents even if the total amount exceeds $50,000. which is not the wording used by the budget committee.

Art. 3 To vote by secret ballot on the following Referendum Question: 
               To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the following sum for
               continued access to Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick (vote for only one):
(a)               $95,918 to continue the current relationship
                                                                Recommended by Selectman Knight
(b)              $50,000 to pay for the library fees for full-time and seasonal residents
                                                                 Recommended by Selectmen Theberge & Weil
(c)               None

Background:

Curtis Memorial Library receives its funding from the towns of Brunswick and Harpswell (municipal funding), as well as from donations, fundraising, fines and more. Three years ago the library indicated that they intended to move Harpswell's share to 10% of the municipal funding, which would leave Brunswick paying 90%. The 10% share of municipal funding would be achieved by increasing Harpswell's share by .5%  or 1/2 of 1% each year for five years.

Last year the Budget Advisory Committee asked the library to reduce their request (and therefore the per cent increase) from $90,663 to 85,260. In the interim the Library was to submit a memorandum of agreement (MOU) which would provide a basis of a discussion between Curtis Library and the Selectmen. The MOU was submitted by the Library in January 2004. In December 2004 the Selectman decided they were not interested in an agreement or in discussing an agreement with the library.

This year Curtis Library based their budget request on three assumptions (I quote)

  1. That the overall Library budget would increase by 3%

  2. That municipal funding (Brunswick and Harpswell as a total) would increase by 3%

  3. That the Town of Harpswell would provide 9.5% of the municipal funding portion of the Library budget.

For 2005-2006  the Library asked for 9.5% of the municipal funding or $95,918. It is such a large increase because the Library had reduced the request last year (see above). The Library believed this to be fair since Harpswell residents in the 2004-2005 budget contributed 8.7% of the municipal funding portion compared to 17.58% of the actual use of the library. Furthermore, the amount appropriated currently is less than 1% of the Harpswell town budget.

The Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) recommended to the Selectmen that the Curtis Memorial Library be funded at $0.00, and the amount of $50,000 be raised by the town to pay for library cards for those Harpswell residents who wished them. Their primary reason for rejecting the Library's request appeared to be that there was no agreement between Curtis Library and the town. They also expressed concern that a 13% increase was too much, that the library should be willing to set up pickup points at local libraries, that summer people used the library, and that the library was not used by many people in town.

When the Selectmen discussed the recommendation of the Budget Advisory Committee, Selectmen Theberge recommended the BAC proposal (zero funding and $50,000 for cards for Harpswell tax payers). Selectman Weil felt that with the re-evaluations raising taxes on shorefront property owners, the library was too much of a burden this year. Also he expressed concern that the Library was tough and would not negotiate. He also recommended the BAC proposal. Selectman Knight, while expressing concern for the increase in the Library's request, recommended full funding. The voters will see the following choices on the ballot when they vote at Town Meeting (approximately).

  1. Full finding for Curtis Memorial Library at $95,918.

  2. Zero funding for the Library but $50,000 to pay for library cards for Harpswell taxpayers (and residents??)

  3. Zero funding and no money for cards.

Selectmen Theberge expressed concern that full funding could win because the no vote could be split between #2 and #3, and therefore #1 could win with a plurality not a majority. Selectman Weil said there was no other way it could be worded legally.

Following the Selectmen meeting, the Harpswell Library Committee met. They voted to recommend and support full funding for the Curtis Memorial Library. Further they discussed various ways to promote their recommendation.

Wording of the Warrant Article

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Last edited on 05/10/2012