NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 20, 2013

Salisbury to decide library's fate

Town Meeting to debate important issues tonight

SALISBURY — A new library, the town’s next operating budget, energy conservation and the acquisition of roads are among the important issues Town Meeting will debate tonight at 7 p.m., when it gathers in the auditorium of Salisbury Elementary School.

Many see the biggest issue on Town Meeting’s agenda tonight to be the proposal to float bonds to build a proposed new and larger library. Needing a two-thirds vote to pass, the issue is Article 25 on the 30-question warrant, when voters will have their say on the proposal to replace the current 3,000-square-foot library with a modern 17,000-square-foot edifice. On April 30, voters approved placing the question on the warrant, with a vote of 1,134 in favor and 733 opposed.

The article requests permission to borrow $7.5 million, the total cost of the project, but adds the borrowing takes place only if the town receives the promised $3,856,187 state grant from the state Board of Library Commissioners, which would reduce the overall cost of the project by more than 50 percent. It could also be reduced by another $400,000, the amount Salisbury Public Library supporters promise to raise.

It’s estimated that the payback cost would be about $40 to $50 a year on the average tax bill, for five years.

To get the $3.8 million state grant, however, Salisbury Town Meeting must approve putting up its share of the cost by June 30. If this vote fails, it could be years before the state is willing to offer the grant again.

A proposed town operating budget of $20,127,443 is also up for a vote. Representing a 3 percent increase over the current budget, $9,487,410 of it will go toward paying for the town’s Triton Regional School District assessment.

For the first time in years, the proposed town budget holds money to hire additional town workers. One additional employee each would be added to the public works and fire departments. Further, a lieutenant’s position would be added to the police department, beginning in January.

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