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This is a website dedicated to
Providing Facts For The P'burg Library

The purpose of this website is to provide information to the community, through primary source documents and opinions, about the issues surrounding the Phillipsburg Free Public Library. 

Breaking News! - April 28, 2021

Last Updates To Site April 28, 2021

The Town of Phillipsburg proposing to
essentially defund the
Phillipsburg Free Public Library!

phillipsburglibraryfundingcutsWe, some residents of Phillipsburg, have concerns regarding the future of the Phillipsburg Free Public Library due to the eagerness with which the Mayor and Town Council of Phillipsburg pursued a referendum in the summer of 2020 which could have resulted in the closing of the Phillipsburg Free Public Library.  Because of these concerns, we recently requested documentation through the Open Public Records Act regarding the Phillipsburg Free Public Library budget for the year 2021.  What we received has again heightened our concerns.

We will provide some discussion that is based on the documents we received.  Links to pertinent documents are provided down below.  Additionally, if you wish to see where critical players, such as relevant public employees and public officials, stand on the issue, click on the "Support Positions" on the menu tab at the top of the page.

The Phillipsburg Free Public Library sent a budget request to the Town on or around October 2, 2020.  The Phillipsburg Free Public Library requested $765,900 for the 2021 fiscal year.  The budget request was submitted through the "Town Portal", so it is not clear as to which elected officials have actually seen the budget request.  You can see a copy of this budget request as one of the documents below this article.

The Town, through the Town's Business Administrator, Robert Bengivenga, originally presented the Phillipsburg Library with a budget of $337,473.  The amount of $337,473 would have been $400,000 less than the $765,900 the library originally requested.  This funding amount would have resulted in the layoff of practically all of the remaining staff and basically made the library non functioning.
 
When the Mayor has now presented his budget to Town Council for approval.  The budget for the library is now at approximately $555,000.  The library originally requested $765,000, and the Mayor and Town Council now are offering the library a budtet that is over $200,000 than what the library originally requested.

This budget is going to severly hurt services that the Town can provide.   The Library has provided feedback regarding the cuts that will have to take place at the library.  Employees will be furloughed or laid off, services will be cut, and town residents will be hurt by the cuts in service.

Why The Constant Threats To The Library?

In August of 2020, the Phillipsburg Town Council voted on the first reading of an ordinance to put the closing of the Phillipsburg Free Public Library on a referendum
.  Public pressure persuaded the Phillipsburg Town Council to not approve the second reading of the ordinance that would have potentially closed the Phillipsburg Free Public Library by way of a referendum.

The only way the Phillipsburg Free Public Library can be closed is through a referendum.  This means the Town Council is not able to just close the library, but the existence of the Library must be put on a referendum.  The voters of Phillipsburg would then vote on the referendum and decide whether the Library stays or goes.  Logically, if the Town Council members support adequate funding and having a thriving local community library, they would never vote to have a referendum that could possibly jeopardize the library's existence.

In order to make a referendum to close the local community Library seem like a good idea, it may be possible that the Town is planning to fund the Library at a level that will make it a non-functioning Library.  When the Library is no longer able to serve the needs of the Town of Phillipsburg, the residents would then be receptive to getting rid of the local community Library. 

The other thing that may be in play is politics.  It may be that the Town has presented a budget to the Library that will make it a non-functioning Library.  Perhaps they are expecting residents to be upset over this budget and publicly and privately speak out.  Then the Town Council Members, the same Town Council Members that voted to put the Library's existence on a referendum, will then be the guardian angels and come out strong publicly and vocally in support of the Library. Those Town Council Members can then use the fact that they saved the Library from a disastrous budget in their campaign in this year's 2021 election.  We can't prove that this is what is happening, however if this is not their plan, Those Council Members should speak out quickly and publicly that they will be supporting an adequate level of financial support for our cherished Phillipsburg Free Public Library.

Documents

Here are some documents and statements that are relevant to what is written at this site regarding the library, and the potential consequences of the proposed budget. 

BudgetSubmittedThroughPortal2021 Library Budget requested by the Library: Click Here to see the budget request that the Phillipsburg Free Public Library presented to the Town on or about October 2, 2021.  The total budget amount requested by the Library for the fiscal year of 2021 would be $765,900.00.

Some budget analysis 2018 to 2020 : SomeLibraryBudgetAnalysis2018through2020Click Here to download a document that shows the library is not receiving anywhere near the support that other departments within the Town is receiving.



2021BudgetBasedOn337473How the $337,473 will be spent: Click here to download the file. If the Phillipsburg Free Public Library only receives $337,473 from the Town, this Excel file shows a rough idea of how the money for the library will be spent.  You can see from the file that the extreme lack of funding will cripple the library's ability to survive and will result in drastic cuts.




2021BudgetImpactBasedOn337473The Impact of the proposed $337,473 Funding: Click here to download file. This document describes what the impact of the funding would be on the library at the $337,473 level.

 

LegalOpinionOnPaymentThe Town is punishing the Library for the Town's folly: Click here to Download. This document is a letter with the legal opinion from the law firm representing the Phillipsburg Free Public Library indicating there was no need to pay $312,635 from the Town's budget, but rather this debt could have been satisfied with materials.  To remind residents, it was the County that decided to terminate the Library Federation  Agreement, not Phillipsburg.

In spite of requests from the Library and pleas from town residents, neither Phillipsburg Town Council, nor the Phillipsburg Mayor, met with the Library to discuss the matter, and agreed to pay $312,635 to the County over the Library's objections.

Now the Town has turned round and is punishing the Library for the Town's own folly of committing to pay $312,635 over five years to the County.  The Town is subtracting this year's payment of $62,527 from the library's budget.

In this year's budget, the Town will only fund $400,000 to the library.  This amount is further reduced by the County's payment of $65,527 to $337,473.  In other words, the 2021 library budget is actually $337.473 - not $400,000