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Summer Sunday Hours for Brookline Libraries? [POLL]

The Board of Selectmen approve a $7000 addition to the Library's fiscal 2013 budget for Sunday hours in July--if it passes Advisory Committee and Town Meeting.

Sundays at Brookline libraries get a step closer to reality--for the month of July, at least.

During a discussion of warrant articles at last night's Board of Selectmen's meeting, the Selectmen faced an addition to the fiscal 2013 budget which worried Town Administrator Mel Kleckner: An addition to the Library budget for summer Sunday hours. A decision which they supported, but not without debate.

"We’re worried about the future. The margin is very slim, and we have a significant increasing in the school population coming," Kleckner said, saying he thinks the town needs to be conservative with the budget.

The amount in question, $7,000, covers staff who would work at the . 

"We could find this $7,000 in our budget if we needed to, there's no question about that." Library Trustees chair Carol Axelrod explained, "That money is already spoken for. That money is already supporting the level of service the library provides, and that the town demands."

She also noted that a full summer, should the program continue next year, will cost $15,000. The original request for this year was a full summer, which the Advisory Committee supported. As a result of the decrease, this decision will go back before the Committee. 

While the Selectmen ultimately supported the move, each expressed concerns about the public-funding future of the program. 

Before the vote, Selectman Dick Benka commented, "We could do this this year--and I supsect the board will--but in future years we may not be able to."

Selectman Nancy Daly added that she appreciated the Library Trustees' willingness to come back with a lower figure than.

Selectman Jesse Mermell added that the Selectmen have "have every reason to believe this will be a success." Noting that the Coolidge Corner Branch library is rated as one of the top 25 libraries in the Commonwealth.

She also urged the Trustees to begin looking for alternate funding for weekends. 

Selectmen Chair Betsy DeWitt added that "the library has source of funds which other services do not." She explained that she was not talking about fundraising, but was referring to the Library Trust Fund. 

The board voted unanimously to support the amendment, and for favorable action on the related warrant article.

Kleckner sent a memo to the Selectmen expressing his concerns, and suggesting three alternative sources of revenue: Reducing the materials budget, using state aid, or tapping into the $4 million library trust fund. 

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