Library's Expansion  | Newspaper Articles

Council officially approves loan
J.J. Huggins, Sentinel & Enterprise, October 11, 2006

LEOMINSTER -- The City Council Tuesday night finalized the appropriation of an extra $1.3 million needed for constructing the new library.

The council voted 7-1 in favor of approving a loan order for the $1.3 million. It was their second vote in favor of the spending. Two votes were needed to make the approval official.

Mark Bodanza, the chairman of the Leominster Public Library Building Committee, said officials can now focus on finishing the project.

Workers are adding onto the old library across from City Hall, and also renovating the existing building.

"We feel relieved that the process is over," Bodanza said after the council voted during their meeting in City Council Chambers in City Hall.

The $1.3 million is needed to cover a shortfall caused by unexpected building conditions and a delay officials encountered when going out to bid.

The delay resulted in the lowest bid being more than $667,000 higher than what officials expected to pay, officials have said.

At large councilor Dennis Rosa voted against the spending.
Ward 5 City Councilor Richard Marchand didn't attend Tuesday night's meeting because of a "health issue," City Council President Robert Salvatelli told the public.

Marchand voted against the spending when the council voted for the first time on Sept. 28.

Several councilors spoke at length to explain their votes, but discussion at Tuesday night's meeting was not as heated as the last time the council voted on the library money.

The extra spending on the library has created controversy because some residents have complained they don't want their property taxes to rise any more.

Rosa said he wouldn't vote in favor of the spending because the tax increase will be "the straw that broke the taxpayers' back."

At large councilor John Dombrowski said he believes many aspects of the building are "excessive," such as the fact it will have 12 bathrooms.

He said people involved with the project could have scaled down certain aspects of the building to save money.

"I think many of the amenities could have been cut," Dombrowski said. "I think people who pay taxes have a right to be ticked off that they weren't done."

But Dombrowski said he agrees with Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella, who has said he will take money from the city's free cash account and put it toward the $1.3 million in an attempt to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Dombrowski voted in favor of the spending, saying he believes that is the best answer at this time.

Ward 1 Councilor David Rowlands said the mayor's request that the council approve the spending just as the library is nearing completion is an example of "broken government."

"I think something is tremendously broken when you come down and the project is 80 percent done and say, 'If you don't approve this, the project stops,'" Rowlands said.

Rowlands said officials could have taken money from the stabilization account to cover the extra library costs and avoid a tax increase.

But since that is not an option the mayor is willing to consider -- because it could affect the city's bond rating -- Rowlands voted in favor of the $1.3 million appropriation.

Fourteen people spoke in favor of the spending during the public hearing before the council voted, and one person spoke against it.



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