The Board of Selectmen May 21 promised to work with the Wilton Library Association to raise $25,000 in operating costs to receive a matching grant up to that amount from the town.
“We’re going to work together, and hope to raise this money,” said First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice after the meeting at town hall at which library board members expressed their disappointment with the need to raise the funds.
The fund raising for operating costs is necessary because of a small change the selectmen made in the library’s funding for fiscal year 2018-19. The library is receiving a grant of $2.7 million, which is equal to this year’s grant. In addition, it is eligible to receive additional grant monies of up to $25,000. For every unrestricted donation the library receives in excess of its budgeted unrestricted donations, the town will match that donation dollar for dollar up to the $25,000.
Part of the problem is that operating costs to keep the lights on are harder to raise than special program dollars, library board members told the selectmen. Another problem is that the library board learned of the need to raise the funds late in the budget planning season.
Selectman Michael Kaelin assured the library board members gathered at the table that the selectmen did not take this action with the intention of hurting the library. He expressed confidence the library could raise the funds and obtain the matching grant. He said feedback from people not associated with the library has been positive.
Library board members asked about future budgets and what to expect, but Vanderslice told them there is much uncertainty in budget planning because of state, local and federal conditions.
The town, for example, is undergoing revaluation and there is a likelihood that home values will be lower and the mill rate will have to be increased.
“We can’t tell you with specificity what is coming,” she said.
The library has consistently been called one of the town’s leading amenities in workshop meetings of the Plan of Conservation and Development.