Squan Council Stands Firm on Library Cuts
Unmoved by public pleas to award full funding request
The Manasquan Borough Council at its Monday meeting stood by last week's move to cut $10,000 from the borough public library's budget request, defying pleas from several members of the public and library employees to put the money back on the table.
Despite pleas from several members of a standing-room-only audience comprised primarily of supporters of the borough library, council members, with the exception of Republican Patricia Connolly, defended their decision made during a special budget meeting last Thursday to cut $10,000 from the library's 2012 funding request in order to get the borough's overall budget below the state-mandated 2-percent cap on property tax increases. Conservative Party Councilman Donald Grasso, who has previously spoken in favor of the library, was absent from the meeting.
Library officials, including Director Carol Mennie, said during the meeting's public portion that the library needed the extra money to cover capital improvements such as replacing the buiding's 30-year-old HVAC system, but Borough Administrator Joseph DeIorio pointed to the organization's $215,500 surplus — more than 150 percent of its 2011 operating budget of $133,500 — as proof that they could survive the $10,000 shortfall.
DeIorio said that according to his projections the library's 2012 operating costs would be met under the council's current proposed budget of $128,000, but Mennie disagreed and said that they would have to cut some programs.
"What do you have against the library?" Mennie said of the council's proposed cut.
But council members were quick to point out that they made cuts to just about every borough department at last week's meeting that trimmed more than $124,000 from the 2012 proposed budget.
Democratic Councilman Owen McCarthy said cuts were made to the Police Department and Shade Tree Commission, as well.
Fellow Democrat Mike Mangan added that the police budget was actually smaller than the library's, which includes another $350,000 that goes to the county system.
"The library can weather this cut," Mangan said.
Connolly made a motion to restore the library's funding to 2010 levels of roughly $135,000, but no other members backed the move, killing it on the spot.