Letter: Charter revision fails to meet state statutes for Library Board, will cost taxpayers money
To the Editor:
The more you read the 2020 charter revision, the more problems you find. Take a closer look at the Library Board changes — they do not meet state requirements and could potentially cost Shelton taxpayers a lot of money and aggravation.
A Connecticut Public Library Board of Directors must meet two sections of the state general statutes, Sec. 11-21 and Sec. 9-207. They require that board membership must be a number evenly divisible by three, board members must be elected to six-year terms, one-third of the members must be elected every two years and the maximum membership the majority party can hold is two-thirds.
The charter revision violates nearly every guideline; seven members, not divisible by three, board terms changed to four years and electing half at each election. That’s not illegal, but Shelton libraries will no longer meet requirements for a Connecticut Public Library.
What does that mean? We may lose access to BorrowIT CT (Connecitcard), the state inter-library loan program to borrow books and materials from other libraries using a Shelton library card and the state funding for the program. Shelton also may be ineligible to receive state library grants for facilities, including grants specifically for historical buildings like Plumb Memorial Library, that would help us to pay for important upgrades. Shelton taxpayers would have to foot the entire bill.
Why would the Lauretti Charter Revision Commission risk this? Money. The Shelton library endowment is about $3 million that has been donated by generous people and organizations. This endowment is an asset to be spent on library improvement programs and long-term investments. It doesn’t belong to the city. But the mayor wants control of it so that he can use it to fund maintenance, grounds keeping and operating costs at the Community Center and Plumb Library. These are city-owned buildings and their upkeep is part of the city budget. By changing the library board, the mayor wants a loyal supermajority that will vote to use the library’s endowment to pay the city’s operating costs.
Putting future state grant money for our libraries at risk to cover today’s city operating expenses makes no sense. At the top of your ballot this year, vote no to the question asking if Shelton’s charter should be amended.
Shelton Democratic Town Committee