Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
$2,000 library brunch irks council
Leominster project ran over budget
Matthew Bruun, Telegram & Gazette, November 17, 2006
LEOMINSTER— A $2,000 brunch for library officials and
staff working on the expansion and renovation of the public
library on West Street has infuriated members of the City
Council who grudgingly approved additional borrowing to pay
for cost overruns on the project.
“I’m floored,” Councilor John M. Dombrowski said yesterday
after seeing the allocation in the meeting minutes of the
library trustees. “It’s not a lot of money, but it’s almost
Library Director Susan T. Shelton countered that the holiday
brunch will be paid for through trust funds, which have
nothing to do with taxpayers’ money.
“The six-member Library Board of Trustees is appointed by
the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council,” Mrs. Shelton
said in a prepared statement issued yesterday afternoon.
“One of their responsibilities is the oversight of library
“The library has 24 active trust funds currently totaling
$243,253.20, nearly half of which has been committed to the
library’s expansion and renovation project,” Mrs. Shelton
said. “All trust funds were established through private
donations, primarily bequests, some dating back to the late
“The trustees voted to use interest that has accumulated
from a variety of unrestricted trust funds to host a small
holiday gathering as a way to say ‘thank you’ to the many
individuals who have given generously of their time and
talents over the past seven years on behalf of the library’s
expansion and renovation project,” Mrs. Shelton said. “These
include the Library Feasibility Study Committee, Library
Building Committee, Library Fundraising Committee, and the
Friends Executive Board.
“This vote has no connection to either the taxpayer dollars
supporting this project, or the money raised privately for
the building’s furniture, fixtures, and equipment,” she
Mr. Dombrowski said it doesn’t matter whether the money for
the party was raised from private fundraising or public
appropriations for the project.
“The bottom line is, it’s outrageous,” Mr. Dombrowski said
yesterday. “We could give that money to any of the athletic
fields, put it toward the high school roof. It’s
Councilors reluctantly supported a $1.3 million bond
authorization to pay for cost overruns associated with the
library project, which is expected to be completed in the
spring. Several councilors have that said despite the crowds
of people who attended meetings encouraging them to support
the library, the vote was not popular in the community.
Mr. Dombrowski, who supported the bond authorization but
expressed his displeasure with the project during
deliberations, yesterday said he was offended to find $2,000
set aside for a party.
“They just came down because they were over budget and
couldn’t cut anything,” he said, noting that the expanded
library has granite countertops and oak trim, amenities that
could have been cut without compromising the project.
Councilor David E. Rowlands said he was troubled when he saw
the holiday brunch in the trustees’ meeting minutes.
“We took a fair amount of heat on this vote,” Mr. Rowlands
said yesterday. “Even though it’s not a lot of money, it
doesn’t send the right message to the community. It just
doesn’t look good.”
Even though the trust funds do not involve tax dollars, Mr.
Rowlands said library officials should recognize the
sensitivity surrounding the library project.
He also said it may be premature to thank anyone.
“Before anyone says ‘thank you,’ I’d like to see it done,”
he said. “Maybe the developer or the builder ought to be
saying ‘thank you’ to us.”