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Reading Voters Approve $3.5M for Library Expansion

Construction is expected to start in the fall.

Supporters of the Reading library expansion campaigning last year. File photo.
Supporters of the Reading library expansion campaigning last year. File photo.

Reading voters on Tuesday approved a $3.5 million debt exclusion that will allow the Reading Public Library to proceed with an expansion project.

“On behalf of the Library Board of Trustees I once again express our appreciation for the continued faith and support of the community for this exciting project,” said David Hutchinson, Chairman of the Library Building Committee, in a statement. "Reading deserves a modern library to accompany its wonderful staff and programming, and its residents have generously and wisely signaled their desire to achieve it.”

Construction work is scheduled to begin in the fall.

Said Library Director Ruth Urell, “Today the people of Reading voted to invest in their future ... We will strive to create a warm and welcoming library that will serve Reading for many years.”

Added Alice Collins, chair of the Library Ballot Committee, “We are very heartened by the positive vote and thrilled that the town has registered its endorsement for this new era for the library. For a long time, the library staff have done wonderful programming in very challenging conditions so it will be exciting to see what they can do working under more suitable conditions with greatly enhanced resources."
Geoffrey Coram April 02, 2014 at 07:15 PM
Does anyone know why the ballot didn't actually give a dollar amount?
M April 03, 2014 at 08:41 AM
I'm pasting info here that was posted to the Reading Concerned About Curriculum FB page - based on what was posted, this was a standard state approved form for this question (i.e., no amount needed in the question): See page numbered 14 of the state document found here (part of the appendix) : http://www.mass.gov/dor/docs/dls/publ/misc/prop2.pdf To quote FB posting "Apparently, the form of our question is exactly the same as the model state question - you don't have to state the amount in the question for a debt exclusion (though you do for a so-called "capital expenditure" exclusion). Section 2 "Debt Exclusions" (numbered pages 9-10) explains that "A debt exclusion covers debt service on the amount of borrowing authorized or contemplated for the stated purpose at the time of the referendum.". So, I guess the model question in appendix a (and, thus, our library ballot, and the one before it) don't need to show the amount because the amount is (inherently?) the amount "authorized or contemplated for the stated purpose at the time of the referendum". It is still a good question, though, to know what is "authorized" , because the ballot question seems to go back to that. I assume town meeting or the selectmen must authorize the amount.
jimvmartin@aol.com April 03, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Not posting the amount is consistent with process designed by a small cadre of self ordained narrow focused demigods.Their arrogance renderers them incapable of compromise, blinds them to constructive points of view. It would be inconsistent for the group of committed individuals to be open about the facts. 1. the debt exclusion asked taxpayers to pick up the tab for a $3.5 million error the group owns. 2. the cost of state grant money passed on to taxpayers has increased exponentially. Example the town had to outlay approximately $9.0 million to receive a state grant of approximately $5.3. Now because of mistakes in budgeting and engineering analysis taxpayers are forced to spend approximately $13 million to get the original $5.3 million state grant. In April 2013 the select group asked taxpayers to vote for a project costing approximately $14.5 million. The Library select group did not take responsibility for the mistakes, nor did they offer or seek compromise to limit the project's scope to protect taxpayers from the new project cost now approximately $18.0 if the current information the select group chose to share with taxpayers is reliable and accurate. The issue passed by a very narrow margin 531 votes only 13% of the towns registered voters agree to make taxpayers pay for these mistakes. Regarding "the investment in a 21st Century Library" and the future, consider how this cost overrun to approximately $18 million impacts the future of Reading's schoolchildren and seniors on fixed budgets. It's time to focus some spring sunshine on the select library group and the process used to place the question on the ballot. The Town Meeting may be an opportunity to air the concerns of the taxpayers the 1,899 no votes.

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