Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 15
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
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Library Funding Still a Sticking Point, but Foundation Monies Are Catching Up

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Borough and Township Monday approved the Princeton Public Library's $3.57 million operating budget request during a joint-municipal budget hearing on shared agencies, but concern regarding when the library's endowment monies would be used to offset capital expenses was, as it was in years past, a point of discussion.

The Princeton Public Library Foundation, with an aim of raising $10 million by 2009, made available approximately $118,000 this year, of which $75,000 goes toward the library's operating budget, and the remaining $43,000 is appropriated toward fund-raising for the endowment campaign, and while municipal officials were encouraged by the narrowing of the gap between endowment and municipal funding, the concern was still evident.

"When we built the library, we said we were building a library that was going to demand a degree of resources that was greater than the taxpayer could maintain," said Roger Martindell, a perennial advocate of employing library endowment monies for capital expenses. "We said that if the library were to have an endowment, the towns wouldn't be so burdened."

But library president Leslie Burger said that the current endowment campaign was acting ostensibly as an investment to generate more money, and, in turn, the library can remove money from the investment fund and inject it into the municipal budget.

Currently, the library has a $1 million challenge grant, where every dollar raised equals a dollar in return. "We expect by the end of 2007 to have made significant progress toward meeting that challenge," Ms. Burger said. That $1 million grant would be slated for the endowment, generating a 5 percent interest that would be appropriated toward future library budgets.

The library is also pursuing a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, bringing in $1.33 for every dollar raised per the functions of the matching formula. "Without those investments, we wouldn't be able to make the matches or raise the money we need," Ms. Burger said.

Borough Councilwoman Wendy Benchley supported the fund-raising appropriations to offset future budgetary costs: "This is a very good return on the money."

However, Councilman David Goldfarb indicated that the library should begin preparing for future budgets with smaller increases. The budget report assembled by the Joint Finance Committee indicates that the library would have received "ample warning" if it were instructed this year to seek a smaller increase.

Other approved joint municipal budgets included: $78,000 for Animal Control, up $1,504 from 2006; $288,569 for Corner House, up $10,747; $7,034 for the Environmental Commission, no change; $170,143 for the Fire Department, up $35,338; $93,808 for fire facilities, up $3,608; $169,643 for the First Aid & Rescue Squad, no change; $417,227 for the Health Department, down $37,774; $228,976 for Human Services, up $5,315; $330,669 for the Planning Board, up $8,307; $1.18 million for the Recreation Department, up $60,672; $1.38 million for the Sewer Operating Committee, up $69,015; $306, 986 for solid waste, down $16,714; and $111,560 for the Suzanne Patterson Center, up $3,906.

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