The decades long debate over funding to the continued Tuesday at the Groton Town Council meeting.
“Some people have the notion that library circulation is half and half,” Groton Town Councilor Dean Antipas told Stonington First Selectman , and . “So with that notion people are asking us to fund it at your level. "People are not convinced that two and half out of three Mystic & Noank Library users are Groton residents.”
Haberek, Crouse and McAnanly attended the meeting at the request of Groton Town Counciler Bruce Flax who asked for the joint meeting to discuss library funding. Residents in Groton have complained that Groton contributes more than its share of money for the library, and Stonington does not contribute enough.
“In real tax dollars we’re doing a little better supporting them,” Crouse countered. “Your budget is double ours.”
Currently, Groton contributes $173,000 to the Mystic & Noank Library out of their approved $118.48 million 2011-2012 budget, or 0.15 percent of their budget. Stonington contributed $65,000 in the 2011-2012 year or .12 percent of their budget. However, Stonington’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 year gives $85,000 to the Mystic & Noank library. Groton has not yet proposed a budget for the library.
Haberek said he decided to propose increasing the amount of Mystic & Noank Library funding after looking at the circulation amounts and seeing that circulation and use by Stonington residents is similar to that of the . Haberek decided to increase the proposed Mystic & Noank Library funding to the same level as the Westerly Library.
“We gave them a significant increase,” Haberek said. “I think we try as hard as we can to keep these cultural institutions working.”
Haberek also pointed out that the Town of Stonington has never received a capital improvement request from the Mystic & Noank Library but that in past years they have from the , and as a result replaced carpets among other items for that library.
Groton Town Council members asked Haberek to share with them the circulation numbers for Stonington, which he said he would and also questioned if he felt the Stonington Board of Finance, would keep his proposal for library funding.
Haberek said he thought the board of finance would look pretty positively on the increased funding especially since overall his proposal for the town budget is less than it was last year. He said that he would share the circulation numbers with the Groton Town Council. Those numbers were not available at the meeting.
“We have an application for funding that has that on it,” Haberek said. “I don’t examine it and say what are the Groton numbers?”
The Stonington Board of Selectman said they would continue to look at the circulation numbers, but added that once you have a library card you can basically go anywhere something Stonington resident Don Maranell pointed out earlier in the day on Stonington-Mystic Patch’s Facebook page.
"I've gone to the Waterford Library, does Stonington need to give money there?” Maranell posted. “Stonington gives what it can but when does it stop? Funding needed town expenses and projects need to be the priority. As a former library board member, I appreciated any help we got but understood the limitations."
It seems the debate over which town if either pays their fair share will only continue.
“Libraries are critical, they’re used in different ways, they’re not just a place for transactions but also for meetings,” Haberek said. “I think we all struggle with how we pay these outside agencies. There are going to be some difficult budgets going forward.”