Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Library loan gets initial OK
J.J. Huggins, Sentinel & Enterprise, September 29,
LEOMINSTER -- The City Council on Thursday gave initial
approval to a $1.3 million loan order to cover unexpected
costs associated with renovating and adding onto the
Leominster Public Library.
The council voted 7-2 in favor of the loan order, with at
Large Councilor Dennis Rosa -- the chairman of the finance
committee -- and Ward 5 Councilor Richard Marchand voting in
Councilors must take another vote on Oct. 10 on the loan
before it receives final approval. They will hold a public
hearing on the matter at 7 p.m. that night.
Library Director Susan Shelton, when asked how she felt
after the meeting finished around 10:10 p.m., replied: "We
still have one more vote to go."
"Ask me how I feel on Oct. 10," she said.
Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella had asked the City Council to
approve the loan order.
But he said Thursday night the city might not have to borrow
the entire $1.3 million.
Mazzarella said he will try to use money in the city's free
cash account to pay part of the sum, so the city won't have
to borrow so much.
"I'm talking to the taxpayer," Mazzarella said during a
tense meeting that lasted more than two hours in the City
"I'm giving you my word tonight, I will do everything in my
power to minimize this $1.3 million," Mazzarella said.
Rosa voted against allocating the additional $1.3 million,
as well as taking out a loan to pay for it, because he
thought officials should take $650,000 from the city's
stabilization account to avoid borrowing $1.3 million.
That would lessen the impact on property taxes, he said.
"I represent a majority of taxpayers, I believe, that are
saying fund this ... but do not raise my taxes," Rosa said.
Mazzarella explained that it's important to keep a large
amount of money in the stabilization account in case the
real estate market has a downturn and many people can't pay
their taxes -- a problem the mayor thinks is looming.
Marchand said he voted against the spending because people
can't afford another tax increase.
"I don't care if it's a dollar," he said.
The average single-family home owner will see their
property-tax bill increase by $83 because of the $7.8
million already approved for the library, according to Mayor
Dean J. Mazzarella and at Large City Councilor Dennis Rosa,
the chairman of the finance subcommittee.
If the city decides to pay back the $1.3 million over 10
years, residents' tax bills could rise by as much as another
$14, according to Mazzarella.
But Mazzarella called the $14 increase a "worst-case
scenario" Thursday night, and said that number would likely
Officials originally estimated in 2002 that it would cost
about $8.4 million to build the new library.
The total cost is now expected to reach $12.3 million,
according to Mark Bodanza, chairman of the Leominster Public
Library Building Committee.
Officials blame the funding shortfall on a delay when they
went out to bid for the project -- because of new state
regulations for public construction projects -- and on a
series of unforeseen conditions encountered by the
The City Council unanimously approved $7.8 million for the
new library in 2003. The state gave a $3 million grant for
Library officials are also running a fundraising campaign.
The library spending has created controversy among people
who are concerned about rising property-tax bills.
The library is currently operating out of a temporary
location at the Crossroads Office park on Mechanic Street.
The new library is slated to open in the spring.