BALLSTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Town of Ballston Community Library Board of Trustees posted a letter on the library’s website asking for help with some concerns the library has with the Ballston Town Board. The letter said the town board has not released the library’s full tax levy and reserve fund, allowed the library to update its charter, or approved the contract for a $107,000 construction grant.
The Board of Trustees claims that Supervisor Eric Connolly began making requests of the library that included altering hours of operation and hiring decisions. The Trustees also claim Town conducted a secret “HR investigation” of some library employees without informing them.
The letter claims:
- Connolly has refused to include the library’s motions in Town meetings
- The Town refused to recognize and properly pay the new Library Director
- The Town refused to process the invoices for the library’s attorney
- The Town refused to process invoices for the cleaning service the library had during the pandemic
- Town officials changed their minds about cooperating with the library to update its charter
The library was also awarded a $107,000 New York State grant for constructing a “Local History Room” and updating LED lighting. The trustees said when they informed the Town Board they hired a construction firm in November 2021, town officials did not object. Months later, the Town Board claimed the library did not have the authority to do this.
The town has proposed to hire a second engineering firm for $20,000 to oversee the library’s engineering firm and contractor. The Trustees said the $20,000 would be taken from the library’s funds. Due to this, the Trustees said they had to postpone the project and may end up losing the grant. They also said the $20,000 is a waste of taxpayer money.
“The library is chartered by the NYS Department of Education and, per Library Law, the Library Board of Trustees has sole responsibility for overseeing operations including hiring, personnel, budgeting, procurement, and financial oversight. This is how the library has operated since it was chartered in 1957. By law, the library should not have to ask for the Town’s ‘permission’ to access the library’s funds,” said the Board of Trustees in the letter.
However, the Town Board said the Library Trustees do not have this authority because they are not elected officials. Town Board Member Rob Fendrick said the library took action on the renovation project without following proper municipal procedures, but the town has been working with the library to resolve these issues.
“We need the Office of the State Comptroller’s input on how to best handle procedural missteps by the library until a formal separation is achieved. This formal separation needs the approval of the New York State Legislature and the Governor before the Board of Trustees can make any budgetary decisions on their own,” continued Fendrick.
Connolly addressed the posting of the letter during the Town Board meeting on April 26. He said the Town Board and the Trustees have made a lot of progress in having these issues resolved before the letter was posted, and they are still trying to come up with solutions to these problems.
“Although I very much disagree with the Board of Trustees’ problem-solving approach, the Town Board and Town staff remain committed to assisting them in their efforts to serve our residents. Collectively, we have a very different account of how our relationship became strained. As Supervisor I do not wish to focus on the past, but rather focus on moving forward. Improved communication on both sides will be needed,” said Connolly in a statement to NEWS10.