New Milford voters will have library and charter on ballot
NEW MILFORD — Voters will be asked to approve charter revisions and $6.5 million for the library modernization project in addition to selecting their elected officials at the polls next week.
Both issues will appear as referendum items on the ballot in addition to the statewide questions on a transportation lock box and a requirement to hold public hearings before public land is sold, swapped or given away.
Town charter revisions
The bulk of the changes to the charter deal with town finances and the finance board.
Under the proposed changes, a failed budget would go back to the finance board and only the rejected budget would be changed. As it stands now both the schools and town budgets go back to Town Council if one of them fails and both can be altered.
The revisions also add more options for voters on the budget advisory questions and add more members to the finance board so there is an odd number. It also aligns the term limits for boards and commissions in town with the same start date.
Another financial change is to lower the cost of a supplemental appropriation that would require a town meeting, giving residents more control over the town’s money. The finance director would also have to get approval from the finance board on investment decisions.
The rest of the changes will clean up language and organization within the charter to make the regulations’ intent clearer.
The charter was last revised in 2006, though the document calls for a review every five years. The changes were made by the charter commission using input from Town Council and residents at various public hearings.
Voters will be asked to approve $6.5 million for the library modernization, which has been years in the making.
This is the third attempt to renovate the library, which was last done in the 1970s. Since then, all but one other library in the state has been renovated, which is why officials are hopeful they’ll receive a $1 million state grant to offset the total cost.
The current library project is expected to cost $8.5 million. The library’s board of trustees has already committed $1 million for the project. Finance Director Greg Osipow has said he plans to bond the town’s portion of the project and officials are considering using about $1 million from the Waste Management Fund.
The project would expand the library from 15,000 to 22,000 square feet and add much needed meeting space, as well as expand and relocate the children and young adult sections. The plan would also make the library compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The remodel includes using existing space, as well as constructing new space by adding a second floor with an outdoor terrace to the existing 1977 addition. It would also add a new facade and entrance to that section, to help it fit in better with the downtown aesthetic.
Under the plans, the children’s library would move to the 1977 section and the Goodwin House, freeing up the old library for an adult reading room. The children’s section would share a program room with the young adult section, which doesn’t have its own space at the library now.
The mezzanine level would be used for more stacks and house the library staff. There would be a self-serve cafe on the first floor.