Library budget discussed
Dec. 15, 2011
By Luke Baynes
The Williston Selectboard took a road trip Tuesday evening, holding session at the Williston Woods Activity Center before a room of attentive neighborhood residents.
On the docket were the budget specifics of two town institutions: the library and the police department.
Dorothy Alling Memorial Library Director Marti Fiske kicked things off, outlining the budgetary needs of a library in need of restoration.
“The roof shingles are in very poor condition. We have had multiple leaks over the last year and a half, caused by ice dams which have then leaked inside the building,” Fiske said. “We have a $200,000 request to do the library roof and improve insulation.”
The $200,000 capital expenditure would likely require the issuance of a municipal bond by the town, which would need to be approved by residents on Town Meeting Day in March.
Fiske’s requests pertaining to the operating budget side of the equation were comparatively modest, but she emphasized that even a small decrease in funding has a large effect on the quality of services and programs the library is able to offer.
“We are not able to offer the range of programs that we had when we had 12 percent more money (in fiscal year 2009), and the quality of the programs has changed, too,” Fiske said. “In the whole realm of things, (the requested special programs budget increase) is small — $500 — but we hope that you’ll let us have it.”
Williston’s finest are in need of another able body.
Although Interim Police Chief Douglas Hoyt’s original request for two additional police officers was cut to one by the town manager’s office, Hoyt pointed out that even one additional full-time officer would take pressure off the department and reduce the need for part-time staffing.
“I think the vision a long time ago was to have a part-time officer who would come in and help you with parades and events and things like that — and that made a lot of sense,” Hoyt said, “but having an officer who only works a couple hours a week or a couple hours a month being the first officer on the scene to a major domestic abuse situation is not the best situation for that officer, or the department, or the community.”
Hoyt said additional staff would leave open the possibility of creating a dedicated school resource officer position.
“A properly selected person can have a major impact on the well-being and safe feeling that a child has when they’re in the school system,” said Hoyt. “A good school resource officer is worth their weight in gold.”
Selectboard member Chris Roy suggested that compared to previous budget seasons, there now exists a need and demand for increased police staffing.
“One difference here than in prior years is we were always a bit hesitant to increase staffing levels because we chronically had positions open,” Roy said. “But now, we’re at a point, it sounds like, where we have filled those spots — there’s certainly a need and if we were to authorize one or two more positions, then there’s some expectation that in truth those will be filled with bodies and we’ll have more officers on the beat.”