Why Is The Library Board Addressing The Charter Revision Commission?

Interesting little item was kicked out a few days ago included in an eblast highlighting all the good stuff going on at the Bridgeport Public Library. City Librarian Scott Hughes and the Library Board are scheduled to appear before the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission on Tuesday. What gives?

City Librarian Scott Hughes and the Bridgeport Public Library Board will be meeting with the Bridgeport Charter Revision Committee Tuesday, April 3rd at 5:30 PM in Bridgeport City Hall’s Wheeler Room. The purpose of the meeting is to demonstrate to the Committee the importance of the BPL and the positive impact it has on the Bridgeport Community.

Please join Scott, the Board, your friends and your neighbors in helping to ensure a bright future for the Bridgeport Public Library and the Bridgeport Community.

The greater the turnout the brighter our future!

Are they concerned the charter commission is contemplating a question for voter approval impacting libraries? A few years ago voters approved a referendum that funds the Library Board 1 mil from the city budget. The past few years one mil represented nearly $7 million. Library Board members are self appointed by the body makeup. The charter commission is expected to craft a question for voter approval centered on an appointed or elected school board. Sounds like library officials just want to make sure no one is messing with its current configuration or funding source. But a big question remains for library officials: what happens when there’s a diminishing return on one mil?



  1. The problem with the library board is they are afraid of FinchWoody. If they were not afraid why are they keeping quiet on why the administration has kept $1.2 million in monies due the library?

  2. The Administration has not “kept” monies due the Library. The Library budget includes funds for debt service for new branches–but we cannot build the branches immediately.
    Under state statute any unspent funds will carry forward as restricted funds for the benefit of the Library. In budgets prior to the referendum the City was allocating debt service to the Library–and the BOD believed we should be financially responsible for debt service on our facilities.

    And yes I am aware your section of town deserves branch services–it is not a lost item–I bring it up every time we discuss replacing Old Mill Green and Newfield.

    So where would be a good central location in your opinion to service the Upper East Side and Upper East End (Success Village)?

    1. Probably in the area of the Zoo in Beardsley Park. The library and the Zoo could run many different and varied programs for kids and adults alike. The only problem I see is parking for library patrons.
      Another area would be the site of the old Kennedy center on Virginia Ave.
      There are also some older barely occupied buildings that can be taken by eminent domain near the new firehouse on Boston Ave.

      1. We think there may be some property near Marin School–which is good to hear that location would in your opinion serve the Upper East Side.

        Now if I could get Aldi (grocery store) to locate where Food World was.

        1. Look, any food market coming to that vacant store would be great for the seniors and others. Right now the people up here have very little choice. You can go to Big Y on Hawley Lane, Whole Foods near Reservoir Ave or the market on Boston Ave none of which are in walking distance. The people up here don’t ask for much because based on past history it doesn’t matter what you ask for; you won’t get it.

  3. City officials have been consistently ignoring the Ordinance which actually calls for the library to be funded at 2.33 mils. For at least two decades, they also took the fund balances at the end of the year and transferred them somewhere else in budget. (Good luck finding where.)

    Here is the ordinance as it appears on the City web site today:

    2.112.060 Library fund tax.
    To provide for the expenses of the maintenance of the city’s public library and reading room, a tax of two and thirty-three hundredths (2.33) mils shall be levied and collected in the same manner as other city taxes and shall be known as the library fund.

    (Ord. dated 5/21/90: prior code § 18-6)

  4. When you attend a variety of City meetings you can begin to see some of the unspoken but real dynamics. Here we are 2-3 years after the Library Referendum and I sense that vote sticks in the craw of this administration, big time. How dare the public oppose what the administration recommended? But the public spoke through their voting and the Library Board has funding that for the previous several years under Fabrizi and Finch was flat. (Come to think of it, kind of like the Finch funding of the BOE, wasn’t it?)

    The Library has the fund flows to build two new neighborhood facilities in the form of dollars that can pay back bonding. But the City claimed, without providing any note that the funds are reserved, restricted, etc. so they were used in the 2011 CAFR to reduce what otherwise would be a deficit. The communication between the City and the Library has been difficult. Although Library staff have attempted to provide rapid response to City questions and concerns. And the Library needed different staffing patterns and/or increased personnel to fulfill promises of added service. But that flows through Civil Service, etc. and routine matters can take years, right? Accountable???

    So the Charter Review Commission has heard a couple comments from Council members who think the power of appointment to this Board ought to conform to other Boards and Commissions. Of course they did not argue the Mayor is accountable, now that I think of it. And also as I think of it, depending on how you feel about this whole Charter review process, if the Charter comes out with enough baggage it might just fail of its own weight.

    As for me, the one action that should be taken is to create a Finance Board that can focus on this major field of inquiry alone, City Money, including budget preparation, review and monitoring of all financial process in the City, providing comprehensive reports of same. The Other Expense line of Legislative Department ($90-100 K annually) that never gets spent could be used to fund research capacity and perhaps the legislative assistant might have some time to provide basic services without hiring new employee??? Time will tell.

  5. I have no idea what will be discussed tomorrow with Bridgeport Public Library and the Charter Revision Commission … but I will say things keep getting better at the Bridgeport public library. Saturday hours are here, there is good programming, the email blasts are very well done, the libraries seem to have a lot of people there. The history department is doing a good job with their history center online project. And I have attended some really good programs there you can’t find elsewhere in Darien or Westport.

  6. Why is the Library Board like no other Board or commission in the City (i.e. appointed by the Mayor) asked Ruben Felipe more than once tonight. Judge Holden suggested it is not political, a good thing, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
    Others including Jim O’Donnell, chair, indicated it is a work of pure service and love of what books bring to the public square. There are no conflicts of interest, nobody sells anything, nobody has family employed. There is a culture of integrity. One thing I can see with lawyer, judge, educator and other disciplines represented, it probably has more academic background than any other Board or Commission in the City and that isn’t all bad either. What I did not realize is the Board nominates new members as replacements, but the elected City Council and the Mayor appointed Ethics Commission reviews and can turn down those nominees. No one stated it but those are good checks and balance mechanics. Purchases for all City funds run through the purchasing process of the City as well. And now the Library Board is using funds to repair and maintain City buildings, namely the libraries. Very interesting dialogue at this meeting. Direct statements were made as well as a very professional presentation of the history, the culture, the finances over the past 5-10 years and statistics that show what the taxpayer in Bridgeport is getting, how utilization is working and how Bridgeport fares relative to State averages and other key cities. By the way the Library Board is accountable in a way no other City Board or Commission is in that they have to report to the State of CT.

    One change being considered is to request the report to the City occur a reasonable number of days after the close of the fiscal year. Evidently the fiscal year did not end on June 30 at some time in the past, thus the Library Board has a requirement for an annual report on July 15. Imagine being called on the carpet for handing in your report late, by an administration that has not provided a public June 30 closing month and annual report in over 20 years. Talk about hypocrisy? Only In Bridgeport. The City would do well to attempt to emulate the Library Board with flat administration, open, accountable and transparent practices, open meetings where comments and questions can be made, services that are keeping pace with technology, and a pledge to provide equal types of services at locations in the East End and East Side, and have dedicated the funds to pay for the necessary bond financing. Hope that moves along rapidly. Time will tell.


Leave a Reply