Selectmen are pouring over budgets with a fine-toothed comb. Last night it was Southborough Youth and Family Services and the library, among others, that were on the chopping block.
Selectmen proposed a 4.5% decrease in the library budget, which would mean a loss of $18K to the library. Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf called the cut “fair.”
But Library Trustee Betsy Rosenbloom said reducing the budget that much would put the library’s state certification in jeopardy. The state requires that towns fund their libraries a minimum amount in order for them to be certified. In Southborough’s case, that minimum amount is just shy of $400K. The 4.5% cut proposed by selectmen would bring the library’s budget down to $384K.
In order to retain their certification, the library would have to apply for a waiver from the state. Rosenbloom said as long as the state feels the library budget is not being cut disproportionally to other town budgets, they’re likely to receive the waiver. Libraries need to be certified in order to participate in reciprocal borrowing with other libraries.
Library Director Jane Cain said if Southborough has to apply for a waiver this year, as far as she knows, it will be the first time ever.
“Each year our portion of the town budget goes down, and each year we come to you showing that our usage is up,” Trustee Fred Williams told selectmen. “It’s hard to do more with less.”
Southborough Youth and Family Services
At $127K, the SYFS budget is not huge by town standards, but even so, they may be asked to carry a larger than average share of the fiscal burden.
Phaneuf proposed eliminating $17K from the department’s budget. That’s a reduction of more than 13%.
“$17,000 is an enormous cut to our little budget,” Laurie Sugarman-Whittier said. She said among other things, the reduction would force SYFS to eliminate their summer program for kids and cut hours for the department’s assistant director.
“It would have a huge impact on what we could offer the most vulnerable members of this community,” Sugarman-Whittier said.
Phaneuf suggested the department might be able to save money by refering families to state-provided social services instead of providing them directly. She called some of the services SYFS provides “a duplication of services.”
Phaneuf also said there maybe other ways to fund the summer program, and suggested Sugarman-Whittier talk with the town’s Trust Fund Committee.
For their part, selectmen Bill Boland and Sal Giorlandino said they weren’t comfortable with such a steep cut. “I am very apprehensive about cutting this budget too far given the time we’re in now,” Boland said.
Both Boland and Giorlandino recommended cuts in the 3-4% range.
There were proposed cuts to other budgets last night, too, including police, fire, and DPW. I’ll tell you more about those in a future post.
Selectmen will continue their budget discussions at a special Thursday meeting next week. By that time they also hope to have firmer budget numbers from the schools.