Say no to warrants concerning library
A substantial number of warrants have been submitted to the June 7 Financial Town Meeting, which call for significant reductions in the municipal and school budgets. Four of these warrants are directed at the Jamestown Philomenian Library, of which I am the president of the Board of Trustees.
All of us share the disappointing burden of the state’s inability to balance its budget without passing expenses on to its cities and towns. But even considering the hardship imposed by the state of Rhode Island, we all recognize that reducing support for our library is hardly a responsible answer.
In light of the fact that 80 percent of Jamestown’s citizens are library cardholders, it is safe to say that our library is an important and treasured resource that provides all of us with access not only to our own library’s resources and programs, but to all of the libraries in Rhode Island.
If the warrants are approved, here are examples of the impact that could be felt by Jamestowners:
• Regarding the books and periodicals budget, the library already operates with a diminished budget in that during the last two months of each fiscal year, we must use donated funds in order to make purchases. An additional 10 percent cut – as has been proposed – would severely affect the acquisition budget and leave us unable to provide citizens with a range of appropriate written and electronic materials. Eventually, this would turn our library into a kind of archive, rather than the active community center it is today.
• Regarding repairs and maintenance, we would, for example, be forced to defer replacement and repair of broken lights and/or cut back on the cleaning service.
The warrant for reduction in insurance coverage is clearly unrealistic, since that is not a discretionary item.
Most shocking, however, is the warrant for an 18 percent reduction in staff salaries. An 18 percent reduction in staff would require an equivalent reduction in services, most likely in the number of hours that the library could be open.
These are just some of the more radical changes that would result from the proposed cuts. In the town’s official budget, the library is slated for level funding for the next year. This in itself is a challenge, though a manageable one, to staff and trustees. Make no mistake, however – presenting a reasonable and realistic budget for the town’s approval requires many hours of dedication on the part of all of us. We take very seriously our obligation to be fiscally responsible and accountable.
I urge you to attend the Financial Town Meeting and to vote against the special warrants concerning the library.
Heidi Keller Moon
Board of Trustees