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Posted on: August 3, 2021

Amherst Town Council Places Library Referendum on November Ballot

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At its meeting on Monday, August 2, 2021, the Amherst Town Council voted 9 in favor, 3 against, with one absent, to place the following referendum question on the November 2, 2021 Ballot.

QUESTION: Shall the following measure authorizing a borrowing for the expansion and renovation of the Jones Library, as voted by the Town Council on April 5, 2021, be affirmed?

BE IT ORDERED by the Town Council of the Town of Amherst that: The Town appropriate $35,279,700 for the expansion and renovation of the Jones Library, and to meet this appropriation, authorize the Treasurer, with the approval of the Town Manager, to borrow said amount, under and pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 44, Section 7, 8, or pursuant to any other enabling authority, and to issue bonds or notes of the Town therefore, which borrowing shall be reduced to the extent of any grants received from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, funds received from The Jones Library, Incorporated in an amount no less than $5,656,576 which, in addition to the $1,000,000 previously appropriated under the Community Preservation Act, represents the Library’s share of the total project cost, and/or any other source to pay costs of this project; and, further, any premium received by the Town upon the sale of any bonds or notes approved by this vote, less any such premium applied to costs of issuance of such bonds or notes, may be applied to project costs approved by this vote with a reduction of borrowing authority therefore by a like amount in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44, Section 20.

SUMMARY: On April 5, 2021, the Town Council voted with 10 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstention, to authorize a borrowing for the expansion and renovation of the Jones Library. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has awarded the Town a grant of approximately $13.8 million for this project with payments starting this year; approximately $5.7 million will be provided through private donations as set forth in an agreement with the Jones Library Board of Trustees; and $1.0 million was appropriated from the Community Preservation Act funds. With these funds secured, the Town’s share of the total project costs will be approximately $15.8 million. A “yes” vote on this question means that you affirm the Council’s vote to fund the Library expansion and renovation project and want the project to continue. A “no” vote means that you reject the Council’s vote to fund the Library expansion and renovation project and do not want the project to continue.

“By taking this action, we hope we will reach a rapid resolution regarding the pending lawsuit”, said Town Council President Lynn Griesemer. “While we strongly believe the Town will ultimately prevail in the lawsuit, and the actions of the Town Clerk’s Office and the correct application of the Town’s new Charter will be affirmed, the cost to the taxpayers in defending the Town will continue to grow and uncertainty about the project will remain. We believe it is important to eliminate uncertainty as to the future of this important project and for the Town to move forward as a community.”

Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated that he would seek to have the lawsuit dismissed through a negotiated agreement with the plaintiffs or through a court order.

Recent legislation has passed to allow for early voting and mail-in ballots similar to the election in fall 2020 during the COVID pandemic. The November 2nd ballot will include a question about the Jones Library, in addition to the candidates for all seats on the Town Council, School Committee, Jones Library Board of Trustees, Housing Authority, and Oliver Smith Will Elector.

Questions? Contact Council President Lynn Griesemer at griesemerl@amherstma.gov 

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