Finance Committee Meets with Library and Board of Assessors to Review FY18 Budgets

By Lizzie Seibert

At its meeting on January 19, the  Finance Committee heard budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2018 from the Bedford Free Public Library and the Board of Assessors.

The Finance Committee began its meeting by remembering Richard Bowen, who passed away last Tuesday. Bowen served on the committee for six years, and on other town committees for another fifteen years. Members reflected on Bowen’s significant contributions to the committee, where, as Elizabeth McClung noted, Bowen was “a great presence. I really looked up to him.”

Richard Callaghan, Director of the Bedford Free Public Library, began presenting the Library’s FY18 budget by saying, “We are very needed this year.” The library hopes to increase both its staffing and programs, which will require an additional $32,000 and is above the Finance Committee’s budget guideline.

He explained that there has been an influx of young children in Bedford over the past few years and an increasing demand for more library programs, particularly the library’s long-running “Storytime.” Callaghan explained that the library is limited in its number of staff members who could provide these programs, especially during its busiest months in July and August. He added that having additional staff, particularly for the Children’s Room, will make the library even safer for the community. Additionally, the Library hopes to increase its internet bandwidth to accommodate the growing number of mobile and wireless devices that community members are using. It is also planning longer-term projects, such as replacing reading chairs and study tables, for which it may rely on other sources of funding.

The Board of Assessors presented a budget which is a $30,000 decrease from FY17. Unlike other town departments, the Board’s salary and stipends will be lower, on average, than they are this year. The Board said its biggest need for FY 2018 is additional software, particularly integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) programming into its system.

The Finance Committee will hear a budget proposal from Capital Expenditures. It will hear budget proposals from the School Committee and Town Selectmen on Thursday, February 2.

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