MADISON, NJ – The Borough Council heard details of the Public Library’s capital plan at its Monday, Jan. 23 meeting.
Board of Trustees President Thomas Bintinger said the roof is a primary concern and asbestos remediation would total $118,000 for 2012. He said a lighter color would be selected for the roof, which would be less susceptible to heat, but would match with the existing roof. He also described the deteriorating condition of the ‘popcorn’ ceiling in the adult services room. He anticipates the capital spending plan would come to about $708,500 over the next five years.
The trustee said a consultant, Library Development Solutions of Princeton, will help with a strategic planning process, beginning in early February. In addition, a Citizens Advisory Committee, an ad hoc group, will work with focus groups and stockholders during the next four to six months.
Maureen Burns, who heads the Friends of the Library, said, this year’s annual appeal raised $70,000. “We were overwhelmed,” she said. But she reminded council that the funds do not go for operations, but support collections, programs and other areas. “We cannot take on fund-raising for operations,” she said, adding that the Madison Public Library is “a jewel.”
Councilman Robert Catalanello thanked the library staff and trustees for their work. He cautioned, however, that with upcoming budget hearings the library’s requests “may not be possible. I urge you to think outside the box and participate in the budget process.” The councilman added, “We are a service rich town. Our options are to raise taxes or cut services.” He said the public should attend budget hearings to “understand the challenges we face.”
Mayor Robert Conley said the budget hearing schedule follows state deadlines. The governor’s address is expected on Feb. 21, when state aid will be laid out. The borough budget will be introduced on March 9, with adoption on April 20. Conley said meeting dates for upcoming budget hearings will be posted on Rosenet during the next few days.
In other matters, the council adopted resolutions relating to the October snowstorm, including contracts for tree removal and tree grinding services. In addition, cooperative contracts with Morris County were approved for purchase of gasoline and sulfur diesel fuel and a contract with Somerset County for salt from Atlantic Salt of Lowell, Mass. A contract for above ground hydraulic portable lifts was awarded to Dover Industries for $46,410.63.
Councilwoman Carmela Vitale described a change in school board elections law that would move Board of Education elections to the general election in the fall rather than in the spring. The poor turnout for school board elections, just 15% voted in Madison during the 2008 election, she said, prompted the change. She suggested that council members meet with the Board of Education “to get to know each other.” The issue is expected to come up at the school board’s workshop meeting Tuesday evening, Jan. 24.
Others on the council said the decision is strictly up to the Board of Education and that borough members should not be involved. “It’s none of our business,” Councilman Donald Links said.
Vitale responded, “This is a very confusing law. My intent is to build a consensus.”
Mayor Conley suggested deferring to the school board on the matter.
The mayor brought up an electronic communication policy workshop that he had attended. The workshop covered the use of email, public records, and violations.
Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto said she wanted to see council members’ personal emails removed from the borough’s website.
Councilman Links said the library and other borough facilities should be held to the same level in adhering to communications policies.
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