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Saturday, April 21 News

Early appeal: Pequot Library director asks proposed cut be restored

Pequot Library Executive Director Martha Lord made a pitch to the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday to restore $25,000 to the proposed town allocation for the privately operated library in the 2014-15 budget.

The library's $350,000 request was cut to $325,000 by First Selectman Michael Tetreau in the budget proposal he has forwarded to the Board of Finance. The funding can be restored by either the full Board of Selectmen or the Board of Finance, or through an appeal to the Representative Town Meeting.

Last year, after the entire $350,000 allocation for the Pequot Library was eliminated by the finance board, library officials successfully appealed to the RTM, which restored the full amount.

"Word travels fast," Lord said of this year's proposed allocation. Tetreau's budget proposal was posted on the town's website over the weekend, and presented Tuesday to a joint meeting of the selectmen and Board of Finance. She said she had gotten calls and emails from library supporters asking if they should attend Wednesday's selectmen meeting.

Lord said the Pequot Library, which is run by a private association, was the town's first public library, open to all residents. The town for years has provided about one-third of the Pequot's operating budget, with the rest raised through donations and fundraising events, and a privately funded endowment.

"The town is already not really funding the library as strongly as their peer towns," Lord said, referring to other association libraries such as those in Westport, Wilton, Darien and Greenwich.

The town also fully funds the municipal Fairfield Public Library and the Fairfield Woods Branch Library.

"We feel our volunteers are working very hard to provide services of value to the town," Lord said. "We hope you'll reconsider."

The selectmen all agreed that the Pequot Library provides valuable services to the town, which complement the two public libraries, but were not ready to discuss the budget request at Wednesday's meeting.

"I agree Pequot is a unique resource to our community," Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey said, adding she looks forward to the conversation on the budget. "I will have other questions when we meet in the budget process."