The next meeting of the Library Board is Wednesday, March 16, at 7:00 p.m. This is, of course, a public meeting. The issues of the last two months, specifically the library making a contribution to the Township for the 2011 budget, and the terms of same, have been in negotiations since the last meeting. Last week, to our surprise, the Township Administrator and Attorney revealed to the press the amount of money they are asking for, $500,000. There are other terms which are still part of the negotiations. I can tell you that these are viewed as protections for the library from some of the threats that have been publically made. I cannot say, in truth, whether there is an agreement that will be struck by Wednesday night or not, but the Library is cautiously optimistic, and has given over much time and deliberation to the process.
If the Library transfers funds to the Township of Middletown, there are strict procedures stated in the law that must be followed, among these are the Library must prepare an Annual Report on the state of the library, it must submit a three year Technology Plan and a three year Strategic Plan. These last two plans are submitted to the NJ State Library for approval. Once these plans are approved, the Library can apply to the NJ State Library for the transfer to take place. The State Librarian has 45 days to approve or deny the transfer. These procedures were developed in tandem with the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees all municipal budgets in the State of New Jersey.
The intent of all this is to ensure that the library has sufficient funds remaining for current year operations and for the future plans it has adopted. In fact, an early version of the law was vetoed by Gov. Christie, because he saw that the safeguard provisions for the local libraries needed to be improved in the bills that were passed. If the Middletown Township Library Board of Trustees does decide to transfer monies to the Township, it is committed to following these procedures accurately and completely.
Once the terms have been negotiated and an agreement has been made, the Trustees desire is that a joint announcement of the terms will be made available to the public.
You are, of course, welcome to attend the upcoming Board Meeting when the agreement, if done, comes before the entire Board of Trustees for a vote.