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In Advisory Vote, Ridgefield Finance Board Denies Early Library Referendum

In a vote that had little to no bearing on the ultimate decision, the Finance Board showed its disapproval of an early referendum in March.

Immersed in a heavy air of futility created by a disagreed-upon section of the Ridgefield town charter Tuesday evening, the Board of Finance discussed and ultimately refused the March 13 standalone referendum for a $5 million contribution to the library renovation earlier approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Besides that, though, nothing really changes.

With a vote of 3-2 against the early referendum -- Board Chair Dave Ulmer, Vice-Chair Paul Sutherland and Jill Bornstein opposed -- the vote has little bearing on what is to come, but the board held a lengthy discussion nonetheless regarding the details of the renovation and the implications of an early vote.

All five members at the table approved the agreement set forth by both the Board of Selectmen and the Library Board but disagreed about the timing of the referendum which is to take place roughly two months before the regular budget vote in May.

Despite their votes, all five members at some point showed concern for the implications of an early referendum.

Ulmer said, as others have before him, that voter turnout is something to think about.

"We can get up to 35 percent of the voters out in a regular referendum, and in a special referendum it can be about half of that," Ulmer said. "The more voters that approve this, the more comfortable we'll be with it."

Besides turnout, finance board members invoked the voters' experience as a reason to wait for the May referendum -- for voters to see the library renovation as one of many requests made by departments in Ridgefield, it would put the decision in context.

With the vote taking place two months before the rest of the budget, the library would stand alone as a separate capital item.

"The annual budget process is there to give voters a look at all the costs to the town," Bornstein said. "It belongs as a part of the budget process."

A town meeting and public hearing will take place 7:30 p.m. tonight (Wed.) at Veterans Park Elementary School to discuss the library project.

Confused February 23, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Stop with the games Luca and Kate. Show you the language? You started this by saying the BOF taking a vote would have "violated the charter". How about you show me that language? My point is there is no language in the charter telling the BOF how to vote or no vote. It's not addressed. So please don't suggest a vote would have violated the charter. It doesn't. The BOF is free to vote on whatever they please. Does it hold sway legally? Maybe not. But it doesn't mean they can't do it to send a message.
sebastian dangerfield February 24, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Im not playing games, confused. You say that jessica needs to know the charter. I didnt proclaim to know anything. I never said a vote would violate a charter. I said that it appears that Jessica thinks that the BOF cant override the BOS and therefore voted in a way that did not disrespect the BOS's authority on this issue. The message she sent--was verbally. I read it--and you read it. Hopefully the BOS can read or listen to the concerns of the BOF. You said you were confused? It sounds more like you think she is being stupid. And your intention is simply to try to ridicule her. If anyone is playing games, its you confused.
Tom Falconieri February 24, 2012 at 01:20 AM
The selectmen the 3 well i might be banned if i say it set the date. So they did it to get the best chance for a go. That is BS and so predictable. I hope the people vote this GARBAGE DOWN. Who in todays electronic field uses the library. The place is OBSOLETE and they want 5 million bucks Basically a day care center at it's best. Total BS as usual from this town and it's clueless elected officials. What else is new!!!
D. S. Bluestein March 10, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I was googling some research and happened onto this discussion which is amazing because actually, libraries are in more use today than ever before. According to a book I've been reading, a pre-recession Department of Education study (2007) found that almost 1/3 of all US households used a library in the previous month, 48% of households used one in the past year, and 60-69% if households with children used in the past year. And libraries across the country are reporting heavy use increases since the recession due to folks researching jobs and people less able to afford book purchases, entertainment (like movies), and home internet use. They reported to their association that on an individual basis, library card holders went from 63% in 2006, to 68% in 2008. And for individual Americans, 66% had visited a library in the past year in 2006, but by 2008 that was 76%. Online visits to libraries increased from 24% of Americans in 2006, to 41% in 2008. Among adult library users, 74% were Americans age 35-45 (the heaviest rate). Since library use varies by average income, Ridgefield probably has one of the highest usage rates in the State. The DOE study found that 39% of library users borrowed books, 12% borrowed CDs & other AV material, 10% used the computer, 9% used reference, and 8% accessed the internet. 73% of libraries are the only source of free computer access in their area. More to come...
D. S. Bluestein March 10, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Unfortunately, studies also found that most people don't know how libraries are funded, and don't realize that while there is an all-time high in usage, and in particular a need for more information technology updates, many states are cutting their funding and their libraries are becoming severely strapped for money. So the local community needs to step up. That's hard for them to understand, because the study found that the folks who support library funding are those who were most involved in their communities, and most realized that libraries are a vital part of the community, and one of the most important sources for lifelong learning for everyone. If you folks on this discussion board really care about library issues, I highly recommend the book I mentioned, Foundations of Library and Information Science, by Richard Rubin. And given the comment above, "Who in todays electronic field uses the library", you might try hanging out there a little more yourself, because apparently the answer to your question is: Everybody but you. DSB, New Milford, CT

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