FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Tuesday to recommended $157,723 for the Farmington Public Library this year.

Chairman Joshua Bell, Selectmen Matthew Smith and Michael Fogg approved the motion; Stephan Bunker and Andrew Buckland voted against it.

Library Treasurer Richard Morton and library Director Maurie Stockford requested $187,094 in response to prior discussions by board members and the Budget Committee.  

Their original request was for $209,990, which was a 40.46 percent increase over the $149,500 appropriated last year.  

To operate the library on $187,094, hours would need to be cut from 40 to 32 per week and two part-time library aide positions eliminated, Morton said.

The Budget Committee discussed a 5.5 percent increase but settled, arbitrarily, on recommending $165,945, an 11 percent increase, Clyde Ross, committee chairman, said. The committee was unaware of the library’s reduced request.

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The bulk of funding for the library comes from town appropriations and interest from the library’s endowment funds. In recent years, the amount of endowment funding available has decreased.

Expenses to operate the library this year are budgeted at $263,936 with income expected from the town appropriation of $187,094, about $49,000 from endowment interest, $10,000 circulation income, $2,700 employee health contributions, $5,000 in donations and $1,500 from fundraising. The income leaves the library facing an $8,930 deficit. 

Asked what is different from 20 years ago that warrants the increase, Morton said hiring a librarian with a master’s degree in library science and health insurance for employees — a $20,000 bump at the time and it never stops growing.

Twenty years ago, there may have been two or three computers for residents to use. Now there are 20 and staff is considering a time limit on use because there is usually a waiting line.  

Library activity is no longer dominated by circulation of books. Some residents do not have internet access or cannot afford it, he said. For the library to safely provide services on two floors, more staff is needed.

With current socioeconomic factors, the library is being used more than ever, Stockford said.

“Somehow, something has got to change,” Bell said.

Smith acknowledged the work of the library but said, “You are part of the town but not part of (town government).”

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