>Real quickly, here is the take of Asbury Park Press Reporter Kevin Penton, who was at last night’s Middletown Library Board of Trustees meeting. As I said in my post last night after the meeting, it was a long meeting and frustrating at times to sit through listening to the double-talk coming from members of the Township Committee. Even though Penton kept his take on last nights meeting brief and didn’t quite capture the total essence of what transpired, I think he did a nice job with this, and I’ll have more to say later!
MIDDLETOWN — It is not a demand, but a simple request — the library should give the township at least $542,767, municipal officials said Wednesday.
But should the township public library’s board of trustees not agree to the request, there could be consequences.
The Township Committee has the ability to request, by adopting a resolution, that the municipality’s library join the Monmouth County Library System, Mayor Anthony Fiore said.
“Such a move would be an absolute last resort,” said Fiore in a letter to residents on Wednesday. “Without the transfer of some of the library surplus, it may become a fiscal necessity. Not an option, a necessity.”
Shifting the library to the county’s stewardship would reduce the township’s costs by at least $1 million, Fiore said Wednesday outside of the board of trustees’ meeting, which about 100 residents attended.
After more than three hours of debate, the board voted unanimously to ask the attorneys and administrators of the township and the library to meet before the end of the month to agree on a figure. The board would then decide whether to accept it.
Most of the residents who commented during the meeting said the library should not hand the money to the township.
Township officials have said they need the money to avoid laying off more than the 26 positions that are already part of a plan it submitted to the state Civil Service Commission on Friday. Included in the layoff plan are 10 township police department and 13 parks and recreation department positions.
Resident Melanie Elminger compared the situation to the story of the grasshopper and the ant. The ants worked hard all summer to save their food while the grasshopper relaxed and sang. Come winter, the grasshopper wanted the ants’ food, even though it had done nothing to save it, she said.
“Mr. Settembrino, don’t be a Grinch and steal our library,” Elminger said, referring to Kevin Settembrino, a township committeeman who sits on the board of trustees and initiated the request last month.
Fred Deickmann, president of the Middletown Superior Officers Association, encouraged the board to contribute the money.
“Everyone needs to work together on this,” said Deickmann, who pledged to work with his union members to come up with additional concessions. “I implore the board to assist.”
“We’re not here to extort your money,” Fiore told the board. “I’m here to plead for cooperation.”