BELGRADE — There will be no full-time library director for Belgrade in the near future.

The Board of Selectpersons shot down that proposal 4-1 Tuesday. It was presented in the form of a proposed budget article for the Town Meeting warrant in March, which selectmen are preparing.

At the polls voters will see a proposal asking them to appropriate $54,077 for the library budget, about $1,000 less than the current year’s amount.

An alternate article, carrying an appropriation of $75,336, which would have funded a 40-hour post with benefits for the town’s librarian, was rejected. Selectman Michael Barrett, a former chairman of the library’s board of trustees, cast the lone vote in favor of the proposal.

Ernie Rice, chairman of the Board of Selectpersons, read a prepared statement outlining his objections, starting by complimenting both the librarian, Janet Patterson, and the Friends of the Library for their work.

Rice said the town could not afford an additional $20,000 at a time when it had just foreclosed on six properties where the owners were unable to pay the taxes.


“This board has cut, cut, cut,” he said.

Elizabeth Symonds, who was chairwoman of the library trustees through December, said the residents would benefit because the library would be open to the public more hours than the current 25 hours per week. She also said neither she nor the other trustees attending Tuesday’s board meeting anticipated such strong opposition.

“We come in and everybody’s all pissed off,” she said.

In submitting the request, the library board proposed to supply $7,400 of the increased cost to offset what was being asked.

The trustees said the concern is that they cannot keep a librarian because of the lack of benefits. The library director works 32 hours a week. The town subsidizes health insurance premiums for the employees who work 40 hours per week. Those working fewer hours may buy it, but without a subsidy.

The previous town librarian, Marcia Haigh, urged the board to make the job full-time in October 2013, when she left to take a full-time librarian’s post with benefits in New Hampshire.


“How many people have to quit … before we make this position full-time with benefits?” asked Zigmunt Streznewski, another library trustee.

“We need to have art and literature and things like that to make us better people,” said Loyce Hayslett, another library trustee.

Dan Newman, a member of the town’s Budget Committee, which was also at Tuesday’s meeting, suggested putting the idea out to the voters. “You let them do it on the full-time rescue person,” Newman said.

Rice countered that there was strong documentation to support the creation of that post, and he said no one had provided similar evidence for the library post.

Howard Holinger, chairman of the Budget Committee, suggested that library supporters raise money from library patrons and use that to help fund the post.

The referendum part of the Town Meeting is set for 8 a.m to 8 p.m. March 18 at the community center with the business meeting scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. the next day. In the case of bad weather, the business portion of the meeting would begin at 6 p.m. March 21.


In other business, the board also received an update in writing and in person from the Friends of Belgrade Lakes Village, a nonprofit group working to raise private money for enhancements to the state’s proposed reconstruction of a 0.3-mile section of Belgrade Road (Route 27) through the middle of the village. The project would be done in 2018.

Diane Oliver, a Friends member as well as an owner of Day’s Store, told selectmen the group has raised $108,000 so far, $42,000 in cash and $65,000 in pledges, some of those pledges over a four-year period. Their goal is $407,675, with $293,400 for lighting and the remainder for the sidewalk, estimates provided to the group by Ernie Martin, Department of Transportation project manager.

The money would provide upgraded material for the sidewalk and pedestrian lighting as well as an endowment to pay for continuing costs.

Rice said his most recent update from Martin indicated that there would be 36 lights spaced 100 to 150 feet apart.

Oliver asked if more specifics would be available, since only cost estimates have been made available.

“Our group knows nothing about what’s been chosen for lights,” she said. “We’re out there fundraising and talking to folks and trying to get things done with what little we have as a vision.”


Rice said Martin anticipates holding a public hearing on the project in March when more details would be clear.

Oliver said the group, which meets weekly, continues to seek grants from various foundations and has sent a letter of intent to the state Department of Transportation in hopes of getting money for bicycle racks and other amenities.

Rice encouraged the group to continue its work, but added, “My concern is we can’t expose the taxpayer to some unforeseen things.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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