Hartford Council Members Call For Meeting On Library Funding
By JEFFREY B. COHEN | Courant Staff Writer
August 23, 2008
Three members of the Hartford city council minority have called for a special meeting next Thursday to consider reopening two closed branch libraries.
The call was led by Minority Leader Larry Deutsch, who said Friday that he was "determined" that the libraries be opened quickly and that "excuses about budgetary needs" not be made.
"It's kind of like insurance so there's no questions that the city council, within a week, will once and finally be able to find funding for the libraries so they can open promptly," said Deutsch, who added that he knew that the council's Democratic majority was considering the same move. "I know that they hoped it would happen, they thought they would do it. But there was no guarantee."
The city charter says that any three members of the council together may call for a special meeting. The other two members of the council to sign were Luis Cotto and Veronica Airey-Wilson. Deutsch called for the meeting to begin Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the council chambers of city hall.
The council last week voted to give $200,000 to reopen the Mark Twain and Blue Hills Avenue neighborhood branches on Monday, the first day of school. They were closed earlier this summer because of an $870,000 gap in the library's budget.
But earlier this week, Mayor Eddie A. Perez told council President Calixto Torres in a letter that the council's move violated the charter and did not follow proper procedure. As a result, the $200,000 that the council approved would not be coming and the libraries would remain closed.
"I would hope that between now and Monday we will have resolved where the money is coming from," Airey-Wilson said.
Councilman Matthew Ritter, a member of the council's Democratic majority, said that his group planned to call a meeting like the three members of the council's minority did.
"They've called a special meeting for Thursday, but in the meantime, everyone has to figure out what to do," Ritter said. And a resolution is "not even close."
Sarah Barr, a spokeswoman for Perez, said that the city is already facing a tight budget.
"Unless council decides to raise taxes even higher than they already are," Barr said in an e-mail, "our hands are tied."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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