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Library Question Headed To The Polls

Posted in: Bourne News, Top Stories
May 9, 2008 - 11:20:03 AM
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     Bourne voters approved funding for the expansion and renovation of the Jonathan Bourne Public Library by secret ballot Tuesday night, 181 to 75, just 11 more than the 170 votes required for a two-thirds majority.
     On May 20, those voting at the municipal elections will be asked to approve a debt exclusion for that project.
     The Town Meeting vote approved the appropriation of $9.16 million for the project, with the town’s share to be no more than $6.3 million.
     The library’s supporters have already secured a $2.8 million state library grant. Voters heard that all further grants and gifts will be used to lower the town’s portion of the project costs. Supporters already have $100,000 in hand toward their $500,000 goal.
     Library Trustee John R. (Jack) Elwood said the total cost of the project is not set in stone, and that bids could come in low. Mr. Elwood said it took library supporters three years to get where they are now, but that it is “a propitious time to go out to bid.”
     Discussion of the article began about 9 PM when Monument Beach resident and library supporter Lexes H. Coates rose to read a poem that began, “I found the whole world in an old building in a small town.”
     Anne-Marie Siroonian, head of the library building committee, noted that the yearly cost of the library debt exclusion for most taxpayers would be less than a $1 a week or, for example, a package of cigarettes a month. If a debt exclusion is approved, the cost to property owners would start at about 11.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, declining yearly over the 20-year life of the loan.
     Galon L. (Skip) Barlow called the project an investment in the community that had a side advantage of employing local people in the construction trades. John L. Schmidt of Picture Lake said the library is bursting at the seams with children, teens and adults, and had helped open his special needs child’s eyes to the world.
     Another voter, however, rose to suggest that nobody could vote against the library, but they could vote against a debt exclusion or override. He said Proposition 2 1/2 was the salvation of Massachusetts taxpayers. Referring to both the library debt exclusion and the upcoming vote on a targeted override for the police department, he asked, “Why do we have to go outside the budget to pay for these?”
     A request was made for a secret ballot, one that must be made by at least 15 voters. Seventeen stood to make the request.
     After the voting process concluded, Town Meeting consideration of other articles continued. At 9:50 PM, the vote was announced.
     Library Director Patrick W. Marshall, who came on board shortly after the library lost its previous attempt at the ballot box by four votes, watched the process carefully. He commented after the vote that he had seen several library supporters leave just prior to the article having been called, and was glad enough remained to put the debt exclusion question on the May 20 ballot.
     Mr. Marshall wondered aloud if he should be asking library supporters to be back at Town Meeting on Monday.
     According to Town Moderator Robert W. Parady, people who voted for an article have an hour of Town Meeting time in which to give notice that they might move to ask for the reconsideration of a vote. Someone who voted against an article cannot move for its reconsideration. There will still be about 20 minutes in which such a motion could be made regarding the library vote when Town Meeting reconvenes Monday. If such notice were to be given, the actual motion could be made at any time before Town Meeting adjourns.
     Library supporters, however, are already looking toward the May 20 election and the debt exclusion vote.