West Windsor library to be transferred to town
Subject to agreement between select board and library trustees, and approval at town meeting.
By JEFF EPSTEIN
WEST WINDSOR, Vt. — The select board and the Mary L. Blood Memorial Library trustees have decided that whatever the legal status of the library is now, the library should go to the town. An agreement to that effect is being drafted, to be approved by both parties and ultimately the town meeting.
The select board and the library trustees worked out the issues in a meeting Dec. 30, 2018, along with lawyer Matt Birmingham, former select board chair Richard Beatty, and town officials.
Although the original deed to the library reportedly gives ownership and control of the library to its trustees, the trustees themselves prefer the town to own the library.
Beatty and Birmingham agreed that although the appeals decision of the 2002 court case Hartford Board of Library Trustees v. Town of Hartford supported the rights of library trustees, it also supported flexibility, and said that the trustees and the town can come to nearly any reasonable agreement they want, subject to town meeting approval.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Beatty recommended that the library be turned over to the town; that the librarian become a town employee; that the trustees resign and be reappointed by the select board; that the trustees quitclaim their interest in the library to the town, subject to approval at town meeting; that current and future library employees be recommended by the trustees to the select board; and that library employees be supervised by the trustees.
Beatty also suggested that the trustees should have specific terms; select board chair Win Johnson suggested staggered two- or three-year terms.
Johnson said that if the town owned the library, the select board would review the library’s income and expenses on a monthly basis as they do with the highway department so there would be an added layer of transparency.
The library would still be operated by the librarian and the trustees, he said, but the checking account would go to the town, and the library would have to operate within a voter-approved budget as any town department does.
Meanwhile, the library also holds two trust funds, which the trustees have spent money from in the past. While it is not clear whether or not such expenditures were inappropriate according to the trust deed, the trustees transferred funds to fully restore both trust funds on Dec 30, just prior to meeting with the select board.
The trust funds would have to be conveyed to the town by agreement, and they would be reported as a restricted fund.
The other select board members, Brett Myers and Matt Kantola, said they agreed with Beatty’s proposal.
At the request of the select board, Beatty is to draft an agreement comprising all these points, and will send it to Birmingham for review. It will be presented for a vote before the trustees and the select board. If they all agree, the agreement will then become a question at the town meeting.