NEW GLOUCESTER — Chairwoman Linda Chase of the Board of Selectmen on Monday ruled to prohibit any public comment on the library budget when four members of the Friends of the New Gloucester Public Library came to speak about the group’s work.

The ban to speak came during the public portion of the meeting, when citizens are allowed to address the board.

“There will be no comment on the budget until the Budget Committee public hearing,” Chase said.

The public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget is scheduled March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Lower Gloucester Meeting House. Chase said the board would finalize its budget proposal on March 23 and then take public comment.

At this time, the budget is still under study by the board that is looking to mitigate the impact on taxpayers.

Carol Gillis of the Friends group said she wanted to give information about who the group is and what they do, but Chase stopped her from speaking.


Chase said a meeting has been scheduled with the Library Trustees and Friends in the future, a surprise to the group.

“This could persuade and change the outcome of the budget process,” said Chase, though the proposed budget by the board is preliminary and under review by the Budget Committee. The committee is scheduled to finish its work on March 5.

Selectmen in their draft budget abolished the assistant librarian position completely. Eliminating the $47,125 position, which included salary and benefits, would leave the library director alone to run the library for 30 hours per week rather than 40.

Members of the Budget Committee last Wednesday restored the assistant librarian position at 36 hours and cut the library director to 36 hours, keeping the library open 40 hours weekly.

The Friends group was instructed to send any written information on the library budget to Interim Town Manager Paul First.

Friends member Beverly Cadigan said, “That is really too bad.”


But, Mary Bickerstaff was allowed to tell her personal story about the value of the library for her family.

“The New Gloucester Public Library is just that — a library for the public! It is important for this board and the budget committee to grasp what the library does. The library has changed lives,” she said, speaking about her family.

In the past 16 years, the Friends of the New Gloucester Library have raised $58,000 to support the library, an average of about $3,625 per year.

In other business, the board accepted Tami Wayboer’s resignation from the Budget Committee.

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