Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Library loan stirs Council
J.J. Huggins, Sentinel & Enterprise, October 1, 2006
LEOMINSTER -- The weeks-long debate about whether the
City Council should approve spending $1.3 million more on
the library hit a boiling point Thursday night as some
councilors became furious with the mayor.
"I got played," an enraged Ward 1 City Councilor David
Rowlands said during the special meeting at City Hall.
"I will never be put in this corner again," he said,
referring to how Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella told the council
that if they don't approve an additional $1.3 million of
taxpayer's money for the new library, construction of the
building would stop.
The library is 80 percent done and is supposed to open in
the spring, according to officials.
Rowlands ended up voting in favor of the spending, but he
said he will "scrutinize every penny" and "be a stickler
for" the free cash Mazzarella said he will put toward the
$1.3 million, so the city doesn't have to actually borrow
the entire $1.3 million.
Rowlands sat in his chair in the City Council Chambers
shaking his head after finishing a diatribe about how
enraged he was, and he muttered something under his breath.
The council approved the loan order by a 7 to 2 vote.
At Large Councilor Dennis Rosa and Ward 5 Councilor Richard
Marchand cast the opposing votes.
The additional spending has sparked concern from residents
around the city who are fearful of a tax increase.
Mazzarella said the additional $1.3 million will amount to,
at most, a $14 increase in property-taxes for the average
The mayor told a joke about how a guy told him that only
equals "two six packs" of beer.
Rowlands asked Mazzarella to consider taking $650,000 from
the city's stabilization account, and use the money the city
will make when it sells a house near Sky View Middle School,
for the library.
That would drastically reduce the impact the spending will
have on taxes, according to Rowlands.
But Mazzarella said he won't take money from the
stabilization account because the city needs that to be
prepared for a looming downturn in the real-estate market,
which will leave some people unable to pay their taxes.
Having more money in the stabilization account gives the
city a better bond rating with Moody's Investor Service,
which means the city gets a cheaper interest rate when they
borrow money, Mazzarella said.
That leaves the city in better financial standing overall,
according to Mazzarella.
So using money from the stabilization account was not an
option the mayor would consider.
The mayor also said he doesn't know how much money the city
will make from selling the house near Sky View, which the
city acquired in 1999 when they bought land to build the
Ward 5 City Councilor Richard Marchand said any increase in
property taxes will hurt people who lived on a fixed income
when they go to fill their gas tank or pick up prescription
"Don't raise their taxes, I don't care if it's one dollar,"
Mazzarella, during an interview Friday, said he found that
statement ridiculous coming from Marchand, who has been
urging the mayor to buy the now closed Julie Country Day
School for more space for the city's public schools.
The school and its land have an assessed value of more than
"Isn't he the same guy running around saying he wants to buy
Julie Country Day," Mazzarella said. "That's a lot more (of
a tax increase) than 14 bucks."
City Council President Robert Salvatelli also went off on
the mayor Thursday night.
Mazzarella tried to interject at one point while Salvatelli
spoke, to which Salvatelli balked, "I'm going to finish."
Salvatelli said he's not a "taxpayers' cheerleader," but he
said a tax increase will cause "some hurt."
"I'm talking about the elderly," he said.
In the end, Salvatelli voted in favor of approving the loan,
saying it was a "conscionable decision" in the best
financial interest of the city.
Rosa said officials could have come up with a "creative" way
to raise the $1.3 million without affecting property taxes.
"If there's a will, there's a way," he said. "I represent a
majority of taxpayers I believe are saying 'Fund this ...
but do not raise my taxes.'"
Mazzarella, during Friday's interview, said the councilors
offended him by "claiming they're fiscal conservatives here,
and they're talking $14."
"The part I take offense to is that I'm not looking out for
the taxpayer. We went seven years without raising taxes at
all, not even a penny," Mazzarella said.
Mazzarella promised the additional spending will cost
residents less than $14 because he will put money from the
free cash account toward the $1.3 million, when that money
When he does that, he wants the City Council to give him
"I expect them to say, 'The guy made a promise, he kept his
word,'" Mazzarella said. "Let's keep score here."
Mazzarella said he has no problem with the councilors
questioning the process they went through.
But, "my job isn't to agree with them," he said.
"There's two branches of government in Leominster," he said.
"There's a check and a balance. Sometimes the council thinks
there's just one balance -- that they're there to check me."
The council has to vote on the loan order a second time for
it to pass. They are scheduled to vote again on Oct. 10.