2018-01-25 / Front Page

Town, library reach accord on relationship

BY TIM RIEL

A subcommittee tasked with improving the working relationship between town officials and the library has agreed on a formal letter that outlines those procedures.

The two-page document now heads to the town council and the library board of trustees for final approval from each board. Ultimately, the panel agreed, the joint letter would be formalized with signatures from Kristine Trocki and Mary Lou Sanborn, council president and chairwoman of the trustees, respectively.

The subcommittee met Monday afternoon to make more than a dozen edits, although most of them were minor. The sides did, however, come to an understanding on the budget process, which caused some confusion during their Jan. 8 meeting.

Because the library, unlike traditional municipal departments, has a wider breadth of autonomy through state law, Sanborn said the trustees had to approve any council changes to their spending plan before it was presented to voters at the financial town meeting.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero, however, rebuffed that claim. While the trustees have the authority to draft their budget without guidance from anyone, he said, the charter stipulates the measure be submitted to the town administrator.

“You literally can do it in a vacuum. You can ask for $10 million if you want,” Ruggiero said. “But when you’re done, you have to give it to the town administrator. At the end of the day, the council is going to recommend a budget to the voters. If you don’t like it, you can submit a warrant article.”

The library board capitulated to that point.

While the first page of the letter essentially outlines the library board’s authority per state law, the second page sets procedures for the two sides to communicate with each other.

For example, when the town’s administration has concerns regarding a staff member of the library, Town Administrator Andy Nota “should address the issue directly with the library director and share such communications with the library board of trustees.”

The subcommittee also decided to create procedures in lieu of policies. Rusty Sallee, counsel for the trustees, said policies are more cumbersome to change than procedures. Finally, the post script was amended. It now says revisions to the document must be mutually agreed upon by the sides. The first draft only referenced revisions being discussed before enactment.

Although the sides have referenced a memorandum of understanding, the subcommittee agreed this document is only an “open letter from the town council and library board of trustees.” Ruggiero called it a “bilateral agreement.”

“There is no enforcement here,” he said. “If procedures aren’t followed, one body is going to complain to the other body. That’s it.”

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