January 29

Farmington library caught in the middle of budget dispute

Selectmen, only two of whom attended the library’s budget presentation, voted to decrease the library budget, while the budget committee voted to increase it.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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SEEKING INCREASE: Farmington Public Library is at the corner of Academy and High streets. The library, a non-profit organization that contracts with the town, is seeking a budget increase, which has been recommended by the town’s budget committee, but not by selectmen.

Contributed photo

The library also has to address costly security problems, Coombs said. Trespassers are known to climb on the building and damage the fragile slate roof. Two years ago, someone stuck a teddy bear on a spire on the roof — it remaine there — damaging the newly repaired roof.

She also said books have been stolen, including a set of art books from an area of the large building that is difficult to monitor with limited staff.

Air conditioning was not listed in the budget or under future capital improvements, but Coombs said the book collection gets damaged on days of extreme heat. The library sometimes closes if the temperature remains higher than 90 degrees.

“I didn’t put it in the budget because it could be seen as frivolous. I see it as collection protection, but we try to be budget conscious,” she said.

Maine is unique, Coombs said, because many of the state’s libraries are separate nonprofit organizations and not town departments.

“In most other states you see a county or statewide funding system. Farmington and Maine are kind of an unusual situation, but obviously it’s very cost effective for the town,” she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.com
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