MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen approved the library budget proposal and several others at Wednesday evening’s meeting with the Budget Committee.

The meeting was the first since March 18 when three members of the committee walked out over disagreements on how the town’s tax cap ordinance would be implemented for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The ordinance, which was drafted by Budget Committee member Albert Aniel in 2013 and approved by voters, states the local operating costs of the town would be capped at $2,726,731, a 10 percent decrease from the previous year.

Although the Budget Committee did not have a quorum, members Peter Defilipp, Randy Canwell and Mabel Merrill attended to provide their input.

Most of the discussion centered around the Mexico Public Library’s request for $68,483.

Library Director Valerie Messana said it is a $2,212 increase from the previous year.

“That number, the $68,483, is the bare-bones budget I need to run the library successfully,” she said.

She later pointed out that the proposal includes an increase in the librarian salaries, insurance costs and the account set aside for purchasing books.

Selectman Byron Ouellette said he appreciates what the library has done for the area, but believes if it were to shut down, “people would find another place to go.

“If we were to say that there was no more library, do you think people would stop going to the library?” Ouellette asked. “No, they’d find another place to go. We’re not thinking of the big picture here.”

“A library is part of what makes a community,” Messana said. “This library has been open since 1925. That’s 89 years it’s been here, and we’ve never closed. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but I feel that every community should have a library.”

Selectman Reggie Arsenault agreed, saying, “The library’s budget barely went up from the previous year. They’ve kept everything pretty much the same. I look at all the fundraising that they do, and the events they hold for the children here, and it’d be a tragedy to see those programs end. The library really is a benefit to the children here.”

Ouellette suggested selectmen cut the library budget to $0 and “let the people decide” whether they want the library open.

“If it gets voted down, then we would go back and add in the number you proposed,” Ouellette said to Messana. “It’d be a good test to see who really wants the library and who doesn’t.”

Merrill said, “You’d really be playing Russian roulette with the community by doing something like that.”

Selectmen voted 3-1 to approve the library budget; Ouellette was the dissenting vote.

Other budget proposals approved included:

* Insurance, $53,000

* Debt service, $333,492

* Unclassified, $60,380

* Health and Welfare, $98,087

* Solid Waste, $237,542

Selectmen and the Budget Committee will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 27, to discuss recreation and police spending proposals.

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