>Dustin Racioppi of RedBankGreen.com posted his take on last night’s Library Board of Trustees meeting in Middletown just a few ago.
In my opinion Racioppi’s take on the meeting was closer to what actually transpired than what Kevin Penton wrote for the Asbury Park Press. Racioppi did a decent job of telling how contentious portions of the meet was last night, but unless you where actually there, you have no idea how heavy the atmosphere and mood actually was.
Committeeman Kevin Settembrino seemed like he was a henchman or stooge form the mafia’s godfather last night. He was very demanding and lack civility on many occasions that I witnessed.
I left last nights meeting with the impression that the Library would only turn over to the Township the funds that they legally have to under state statue, which in an of itself was an issue that was haggled over and would amount to about $200K based on the Boards interpretation of the law, a far cry from the almost $900K that the Township committee is looking for.
Here is some of what Dustin Racioppi had to say about last nights meeting:
…Indeed, this was not going to be swift or pretty, as the library faced implications it had never seen before: the threat of being transferred to the Monmouth County library system and indirect blame for township employees being laid off.
At the end of the long night, though, the board compromised, agreeing to have the attorneys and administrators from both bodies meet within the next two weeks to try and agree upon an “amicable” figure the library would take from its surplus and transfer to the general budget. That number will be voted on at a meeting in March.
It took a marathon of debate to get to that point, though.
Residents filled the library’s meeting room to probe officials, tell their stories about the library and, at times, take jabs at elected officials. At one point, a line seven deep formed behind the microphone.
Resident Mike Burns took aim at Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, who also serves on the library board and favors the raid on the surplus. It was, perhaps, an initiation to Middletown politics for Settembrino, who took office in January and, as Burns pointed out, doesn’t hold a library card.
“Mr. Settembrino, when was the last time you checked out a book? When was the last time you checked out a CD? When was the last time you checked out a DVD?” he asked. “I think it’s interesting that you’re on the library board. Can you tell me what the difference is between you serving on the library board and Osama bin Laden serving on the Department of Homeland Security?”
While harsh comments peppered the meeting, there was also constructive criticism for township officials to consider in the formation of Middletown’s budget.
The town, facing declining revenues and a staggering amount of tax appeal refunds, came to the library board last month for help, asking for $898,000 to cover the library’s debt service on a bond for the library’s renovation and a decrease in its property value.
Linda Baum suggested that rather than dip into the library surplus, the committee should consider other cost-reduction options, like outsourcing leaf and brush collection.
“There’s your million dollars right there,” she said. “We obviously need to do some creative thinking.”
Before the meeting got started, and shortly after, the tension among the board and committee members reached a fever pitch as a result of the committee’s threat that if the board didn’t help with the town budget, the committee would explore the option of transferring the library to the county system. The committee also filed a layoff plan with the state calling for the elimination of 26 jobs, including those of 10 police officers, adding to the pressure put on the library board….
You can read his full take on last nights meeting >>> Here
And again I need to state, even if the Library hands over a portion of its surplus funds, it will have no effect on the previously announced layoffs of 26 township employees. Those jobs are considered lost already by the Township Committee we learned last night. Any funds that the Township receives from the Library could only possibly prevent more employees loosing their jobs.