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CITY OF WOBURN
JUNE 16, 2011 – 7:00 P.M.
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, WOBURN CITY HALL
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE CITY COUNCIL
Pursuant to Title III, Section 12 and Section 15 of the Charter of the City of Woburn, His Honor the Mayor has called a Special Meeting of the City Council to be held in the City Council Chambers, Woburn City Hall, 10 Common Street, Woburn on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. for the purpose of discussing the library grant application and for any other matter related thereto legally before the City Council.
A communication dated June 16, 2011 with attachment was received from His Honor the Mayor Scott D. Galvin as follows:
Dear President Denaro and all Aldermen:
Since September of 2010, I have expressed major concerns to the Library Trustees that their addition and renovation plan was too big and too expensive. We tried to work on a compromise, but have been unable to reach a common ground and a substantial gap remains.
I want to stress again, and again and again the City is in no position today or in the near future to pay for any of the $24million-plus library renovation. Any order referencing the City contributing $5.5 million from its reserves for this $24 million project is not true.
Our debt service will see a significant jump in next year’s budget – due to the construction of the Goodyear School and the desperately needed roof repairs at the Joyce and Kennedy middle schools. Health insurance and pensions will continue to create upward pressure on the budget.
I understand and appreciate that something must be done at Woburn Public Library. If this is the plan the Trustees of the Library are committed to pursuing approval for the full cost of the construction must come from the voters of Woburn.
We have consistently seen the same supporters of the $24 million library proposal at every City Council meeting.
However, I have also spoken with a significant number of people who are not here in this room, but who would be severely impacted by the cost associated with building a $24 million Library addition.
- The teacher who has four children in college and cannot take any additional tax burden;
- The single mother who is struggling to keep her home out of foreclosure;
- The family of four living paycheck to paycheck;
- The resident who is unemployed or struggling to find work;
- The senior citizen living on a fixed income;
- The resident who never uses the library;
- The resident who is undecided or hasn’t had the opportunity to form an opinion yet;
- The resident who doesn’t want to see the architectural integrity of the library changed at all; or
- The resident who feels that the addition/renovation is simply an unnecessary government expenditure.
In order to ensure that all of the residents of the City have a voice in the Library Trustees proposal of a $24 million expansion, and at the same time allowing the Library Trustees grant application for $8 million to $10 million to proceed, I am proposing the following order:
ORDERED That the City of Woburn approves the proposed renovation and expansion of the Woburn Public Library contingent on the receipt of a state grant:
Subject To: Vote by the taxpayers of Woburn to exempt from the limitations on total taxes imposed by M.G.L. chapter 59, section 21c(k) (Prop. 2 1/2) those amounts required to pay the principal and interest on the amount bonded to construct the proposed renovations and expansion of the Woburn Public Library.
This vote by the taxpayers shall take place on the first November General Election after the awarding of the provisional grant.
That the Board of Trustees of the Woburn Public Library and the Mayor be and are hereby authorized to apply for, accept and expend any state grant funds which may be available for the project; and
That The Board of Trustees of the Woburn Public Library and the Mayor be and are hereby authorized to apply for any state funds which might be available to defray all or part of the cost of the design, construction and equipping of the library project and to accept and expend any such state funds when received without further appropriation.
President Denaro stated that the debate will be limited to five minutes per Alderman. Motion made and 2nd that each Alderman be limited to five minutes debate each at this meeting, all in favor, 9-0. Mayor Galvin appeared and read his communication dated June 16, 2011 into the record. Mayor Galvin stated that a decision will be made by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) on the grant application by July 14, 2011 as to whether the city will be approved, that the city then has six months to get the funding in place, and that the MBLC can extend that time according to their rules. Motion made and 2nd to allow a representative of the Woburn Public Library Board of Trustees to address the City Council, 8 in favor, 1 opposed
(Denaro opposed), Board of Trustees President Janet Rabbitt stated that in discussion with the Mayor she felt forced to sign a communication dated June 16, 2011 supporting placing a debt exclusion question on the ballot as a condition of applying for a grant for the library, that she was told if the communication was not signed the Mayor would cancel the meeting and advise the press that he did his best to obtain a grant, that the Board of Trustees are not in favor of the debt exclusion language being tied to the grant application, that the grant would likely be awarded two years from the submission of the application, that the city can reduce the overall size of the project by over 5% as long as the city meets the MBLC guidelines, and that the Trustees will proceed with transparency in designing the library. President Rabbitt offered documents to the City Council for review. Motion made and 2nd that the documents be received and made part of the record, all in favor, 9-0. Motion made and 2nd to return to the regular order of business, all in favor, 9-0. Alderman Drapeau stated that the parties should make this project work for the city, that a referendum on whether to move forward with the project is beneficial but not with a debt exclusion component, that the city has funded the purchase of open space and building schools which placed a strain on the budget, that the grant is a great opportunity, that he supports allowing the Trustees to go forward with the grant application while capping the city’s commitment to $5,500,000.00, that the process with get the city into the next grant round, that the new grant round will save the city $9,000,000.00 to $10,000,000.00, that other funding sources are available for the project, and that he does not support placing the issue on the ballot for a debt exclusion vote. Alderman Gately stated that the City Council has been looking at this issue for a year and has voted on the issue, that the Mayor will not support the $24,000,000.00 project, that sources of money have been proposed for the project but the receipt of those funds is not guaranteed, that the calculation shows a shortfall even before value engineering and downsizing, and that he will not support the larger proposal. Alderman DiTucci stated that the City Engineer in 2008 estimated the cost of the library project at $18,000,000.00, that the earlier plan was deemed deficient by the MBLC, that the project was not handicapped accessible, that the architects told the Mayor a week before the last City Council vote on this matter that the $15,000,000.00 project will not pass MBLC guidelines, that a $15,000,000.00 plan does not exist, that it will cost the city nothing to move forward with the grant application, that even the $5,500,000.00 will not have to be obligated during the grant phase, that the Trustees have agreed to downsize the plan and seek a larger grant, that the MBLC will give a $10,000,000.00 grant and there are additional funds such as green credits and historic tax credits, that the MBLC representative stated that with the Cambridge library project complete Woburn bow have the worse library in the state, and that it is mean-spirited not to let the Trustees to move forward. Mayor Galvin stated that the cost for both the $15,000,000.00 plan and the $24,000,000.00 plan have gone up, that the cost of the 38,000 square foot project is $425.00 per square foot, that value engineering can reduce the cost, that the original grant has lapsed and the former project could have been a reality, and that the voters should decide if the library project should move forward. Alderman Raymond stated that he voted against the prior Order because of the funding plan, that when the City Council voted on prior bond issues, such as the Goodyear School and the open space, there was over majority support in the City Council and in the community, that the Whispering Hill matter took many years to come to fruition, that fourteen meetings have been held on this issue, that the city is still undecided on the issue, that each Order before the City Council tonight has merit, and that the matter should go to the voters not because of the size of the project but because of the controversy surrounding the issue over the past fourteen meetings. Alderman DiTucci stated that the library would have to expend significant money to fund a campaign for the debt exclusion, that there is no reason to pursue a debt exclusion question at this time, that the City Council should allow the Trustees to simply go forward with the grant application and pursue the debt exclusion in the future I f necessary, and that to pursue the debt exclusion now is an attempt to kill the project and if that is the intent then the project should be killed now. Mayor Galvin stated that this is an important matter and the entire city should vote on this issue, and that the proposal is not meant to kill the project but to hear from the community. Alderman DiTucci stated that if the intent is genuine to move forward with the project then the debt exclusion can be pursued when needed. Mayor Galvin stated that he does not want to hold a special election on the matter but let all voters speak on this on a November ballot but not necessarily this November. Alderman DiTucci stated that the City Council should not tie the grant application to a debt exclusion question. Alderman Haggerty stated that he will not support the project if it is tied to a Proposition 2½ override or debt exclusion question, that keeping the project within the restrictions of Proposition 2½ is the control as to whether the city can move forward, that there is vagueness in the debt exclusion question, that the question asks whether the community will support a project but does not include a cost, and that the debt exclusion process does not allow the community to know how much the project will cost. Alderman Anderson stated that he does not support the debt exclusion question proposal, that there is a no plan or proposal for a library before the City Council, that there is no amount stated in the ballot question, that the issue came to the City Council last fall, that the Trustees have been looking to renovate and improve the library as fiduciaries and stewards, that the City Council asked the Trustees to reduce the size of the project or seek new grant money for more money, that he and many of his constituents believe the project is too big, that he supported the smaller project with the previous grant, that the smaller project was met with excuses as to why the project could not go forward, that he believes that the project could be worked on, that he will not support any expenditure by the city over $5,500,000.00 at this time, that he will not support an undefined debt exclusion question, and that the city will be obligated for unexpected costs. Alderman Gaffney stated that it would be fiscally irresponsible to move forward with the larger proposal, that the city should not be obligated for more than $5,500,000.00 for the project, and that he will not support the debt exclusion question. Alderman Mercer-Bruen stated that she will not support the $24,000,000.00 project, that the public should be able to speak on this issue, that there are some in the community who believe that no money should be spent on the library, that she does not agree with that position but those members of the community have a right to be heard, that the Mayor made clear that he will not sign an Order except for what he has proposed, that the MBLC rules stated that the Mayor has to sign the Order presented to their office for consideration, and that this should be a decision for the people of Woburn and should be presented that way. Alderman Anderson stated that the City Council can let this grant application go forward and then decide whether the matter should go to the voters. Alderman Drapeau stated that the debt exclusion question will be a tax increase, that the debt exclusion language is vague and gives the city leaders the opportunity not to be fiscally responsible, that this grant application process is a great opportunity for the city, that he is confident that the Trustees will act with the best intentions, that the City Council is only deciding about letting the grant application be submitted, that the city is not committing one dime to the project at this time, and that the application should go forward. President Denaro stated that there is a second Order before the City Council at this meeting, and that he wants to know if that second Order passes whether the Mayor will approve the Order. Mayor Galvin stated that the meeting was called for the purpose of trying to move the project forward, that the grant decision will be received by July 14, 2011, and that fundraising has generated $300,000.00 in donations in five years. President Rabbitt stated that the fundraising efforts have raised $500,000.00 in five years. Mayor Galvin stated that the money for the project will not come from the city, that the voters will have to be consulted as to whether they support the project and will fund the project, and that if the project is delayed for three years then the cost will only escalate. Alderman Drapeau stated that there is no funding in place for the project, and that if time passes and the funding is not obtained a decision will have to be made then. President Rabbitt stated that the Mayor’s signature is not required on the grant application, that a majority vote of the City Council is needed to proceed with the grant application, that there is $70,000,000.00 in grant funds available for thirty communities vying for the money, and that the application will likely be on a waiting list for two or three years. Alderman DiTucci stated that the Trustees are not asking for money for the project at this time, and that a vote of support by the City Council allows the grant application to go forward and the MBLC to review the application. Alderman Gately read a document that he said were the MBLC grant application guidelines and that guidelines require the approval of the Mayor. Motion made and 2nd that the ORDER be ADOPTED, ROLL CALL: Anderson – No, DiTucci, No, Drapeau – No, Gaffney – No, Gately – Yes, Haggerty – No, Mercer-Bruen – Yes, Raymond – Yes, Denaro – Yes, Motion Fails.
ORDERED That the City of Woburn subject to bond approval by the City Council approves the proposed renovation and expansion of the Woburn Public Library contingent on the receipt of a state grant;
That the Board of Trustees of the Woburn Public Library and the Mayor be and are hereby authorized to apply for, accept and expend any state grants which may be available for the project;
That The Board of Trustees of the Woburn Public Library and the Mayor be and are hereby authorized to apply for any state funds which might be available to defray all or part of the cost of the design, construction and equipping of the library project and to accept and expend any such funds when received without further appropriation;
That this approval is granted with the understanding that the City of Woburn’s financial contribution shall not be more than $5,500,000.00 and the city reserves the right to work with the Board of Trustees of the Woburn Public Library and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to further reduce the scope of the project, including size, design, materials and cost; and
That this approval in no way obligates the City of Woburn to accept the grant, if a grant is awarded, if the City of Woburn finds itself in a financial situation that precludes the project at the time.
Alderman Haggerty stated that the city Council has responsibility to lead as does the Mayor, that if the project cannot be funded then the decision not to proceed can be made at that time, that this is not a funding request, that supporting this Order puts the onus on the Trustees to raise the funds for the project, that this Order gives the city an opportunity to receive the funds, and that he will support the Order. Alderman Gately stated that the Order is not based on a bond authorization, and that the fourth paragraph with reference to $5,500,000.00 should be deleted. Alderman Mercer-Bruen stated that the City Council cannot enforce the $5,500,000.00 condition, that the mayor will not sign this Order if adopted, and that asking the taxpayers to weigh in on the issue is the right thing to do. Alderman DiTucci stated that it is important to read the language carefully, that this Order does not indicate a minimum amount that the city will expend just that the expenditures cannot exceed $5,500,000.00, that the Order can be amended by deleting the reference to $5,500,000.00 but the reference to the obligation of the Trustees to work to reduce the size and scope of the project should be left in the Order, and that it is her opinion that reference to the $5,500,000.00 should also be left in the Order. Alderman Drapeau stated that the $5,500,000.00 is a guideline which sets a cap on expenditures by the city, that there is nothing for the city to lose in moving forward with the application, that discussions relative to funding can take place once the grant is awarded, and at that time the best decision for the taxpayers can take place. Alderman Raymond state that the main library building has to be repaired and upgraded, and that there should be language added to the Order that once the funding is in place that the matter will go on the ballot. Alderman Anderson stated that he will not support this Order without the stated limitation of funds that the city will commit to the project, that the project is on life support, that this Order is an invitation to the Trustees to reduce the size of the project as it is way too big, that the Trustee have to do the fundraising, that he does not want the Trustees back in three years saying that they do not have enough money and need more, and that he knows that the Trustees can secure the funding if they make the effort as they stated they would. Alderman DiTucci stated that the Order should not be encumbered with the ballot question language as the Order is already longer than what the MBLC needs, that adopting this Order lays the issue at the feet of the Trustees, and that the Trustees will have to do what they need to do. Alderman Mercer-Bruen stated that the Order has been drafted to address the concerns of the City Council, that adding the ballot questions provision will make more Alderman comfortable in supporting the Order, and that perhaps city officials can be added to the board to make decisions on the plan. Alderman Raymond stated that he is trying to come up with a compromise, and that the Order can be amended to state that once funding for the project is in place a ballot question can be voted as it will be comfort to the City Council and to the public. President Denaro stated that a vote of constituents will only be taking the pulse of the city but will not bind the city. Alderman DiTucci stated that it may become necessary to go to the voters at some time but there is nothing to go to the voters with at this time. Aldermen Drapeau stated that when there is an issue involving funding the people of Woburn come together, that if the city receives a grant and an effort is made to fundraise there will be a different atmosphere that will prompt donations, and that unless the library is going to be closed the application should go forward. Alderman Gately stated that the first paragraph of the Order stated that they city will have to proceed with the project. Motion made and 2nd that the ORDER be ADOPTED, ROLL CALL: Anderson – Yes, DiTucci – Yes, Drapeau – Yes, Gaffney – Yes, Gately – No, Haggerty – Yes, Mercer-Bruen – No, Raymond – Yes, Denaro – No, Motion Passes.
Presented to the Mayor June 17, 2011 and ten days having elapsed without same being approved, said Order became effective without his signature on June 28, 2011.
Motion made and 2nd to ADJOURN, all in favor, 9-0. Meeting adjourned at 8:34 p.m.
A TRUE RECORD ATTEST:
William C. Campbell
City Clerk and Clerk of the City Council