Trustees Discuss Draft MOU For Their Financial Obligation To Town For Library Demolition/Expansion Project
The Jones Library Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting on March 30, 2021, through Zoom. However, the meeting was not recorded. The meeting packet is here.
Participants included all Trustees, Library Director Sharon Sharry, and Lewis Mainzer, Liaison to the Friends of the Jones Library.
The main topics included approval of the FY22 Budget and discussion of the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Trustees and the Town, which will legally bind the Library to pay the Town $6.6 million towards the Town’s share of the now $36.3 million demolition/expansion project.
The vote on the Library demolition/expansion project is slated to be this Monday, April 5, from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
FY22 Budget Vote
The Trustees discussed two different budget draft plans for FY22,as the budget deadline for the Town was April 1. A lengthy discussion ensued about how much to take as an endowment draw.
The Town pays 76.6 percent of the Jones’ total operating expenses, and the Jones is responsible for 23.4 percent; the endowment pays for almost half of the Library’s share.
Director Sharon Sharry prepared one budget draft in early March using a 4.0 percent draw from the endowment, which has been the goal set for the last few years (although the draw has gone up to 5 percent on occasion). Sharry’s budget proposal assumed that during this upcoming fiscal year, the Sammy’s (an annual gala/fundraiser for the Jones that honors the area’s literary heritage) would be held and the Friends would be able to raise $200,000 for the Annual Fund; the Jones Library receives 80 percent of this after fundraising expenses are paid.
Treasurer and Trustee Bob Pam then asked Sharry to prepare a budget using a 4.5 percent draw. Pam felt uncomfortable about so many uncertainties regarding fundraising. The goal for the Friends this year was to raise $150,000, so bumping it up to $200,000 seemed like a stretch to him.
Trustee Lee Edwards, Co-Chair of the Friends Development Committee, commented that she hoped the Board could not see her face on the screen “turning white,” and then added that she felt “confident” that the Friends would take up the challenge. She felt that acceptance of the demolition/expansion project would create a “rising tide” in fundraising.
Most other Trustees felt that if a 4 percent draw was not sufficient, a mid-year correction could be accomplished and more money could be taken out of the endowment then.
President Austin Sarat conducted a vote on a 4.5 percent draw rate, which was defeated 5-1 with Treasurer Pam voting no. Therefore, the 4 percent draw rate was set.
Draft Memorandum of Understanding
A detailed discussion of the Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the town ensued. The MOU will legally bind the Trustees to provide $6,656,576 million towards the demolition/expansion.
Sarat stated that there have been several meetings with the Library Director, Trustee Alex Lefebvre, the Town Manager, and Town Counsel. The Town Counsel has been representing both the Library and the Town during negotiations. Sarat stated that meetings were conducted “in the right spirit” in order to satisfy the needs of both the Library and the Town.
The Draft was not included in the meeting packet and was not displayed on the screen. However, it is now included in the Finance Committee 3/30/21 meeting packet.
The draft states that the Jones Library, Inc. is requesting that the Community Preservation Act (CPA) grant of $1,000,000 for Special Collections be considered towards the Library’s total commitment. “The Trustees intend to raise the remaining $5,656,576 [apparently minus their own fundraising expenses according to the draft MOU] by applying for grants available to it, whether governmental or private, and gifts to it from individuals and other sources, and, further have agreed that if the Library Share is not obtained through such sources, The Trustees shall use either the Library’s endowment, valued at $9,118,837 as of February 28, 2021 or other sources of funds available to it, to pay the Library Share.”
As to the due date of repayment, “The Trustees agree that the Library Share shall be paid in full to the Town (a) simultaneously with the final payment made to the Town by the MBLC for the Total Project Cost (the “Library Share Due Date”), which is projected to occur on or after June 30, 2026, or (b) in the event that the MBLC final payment is delayed for any reason, one (1) year from the date on which a certificate of occupancy is issued for the Project, unless the Town, through the Town Council, approves a later date.”