Finance Committee Meets; Closure of Branch Libraries Discussed

By Carol McCracken (Post # 449)

The Finance Committee met last night in a workshop to discuss the proposed budget presented to it for its consideration by the city council. No public comment was taken. A final vote on the budget will take place by the Committee on Tuesday; then it will be forwarded to the full City Council for approval.

The budget for the Portland public library was crafted with the intention of closing three of the cities five branch libraries according to its director, Stephen Podgajny. They are the East End, the West End and Riverton branches. That allowed for a savings in the library budget of about $350,000. Councilor John Anton who is also on the Finance Committee has suggested in the past that if the three branches are in fact, closed, the city should realize some of those savings. Last night Councilor Anton asked city manager, Joe Gray to work with library director, Podgajny to come up with some additional savings from its proposed budget for 2011 which begins July 1st.

Meanwhile, the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organizatiaon, wrote a letter dated April 16 to city councilors and the Board of Trustees of the public library expressing their “disappoinotment and disapproval of the decision to close” the branch libraries. The letter signed bhy two officers of the MHNO said in part: “The libraries are an integral part of the schools – removing them is not budget surgery but rather educational amputation.”

The East End Community School Public Library is comprised of books and materials from the public system as well as its own school materials. According to one East End Community School staff member recently, the library space would automatically revert back to the school’s own (not open to the public) library.

Carol Dayn, EEOC principal, recently announced her resignation from that post with no comment.