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Newton aldermen fail in bid to reopen branch libraries

Posted by Ralph Ranalli August 12, 2008 10:59 AM

Aldermen Amy Sangiolo and Lenny Gentile got the majority of their colleagues to support a measure challenging Mayor David Cohen's decision not to reopen the city's four branch libraries, but it wasn't enough.

The aldermen needed support from 16 of their 24 colleagues to use a relativel obscure state law to override the mayor's decision and appropriate $259,000 for the branch libraries. According to Newton's city charter, the mayor is the only one with the authority to appropriate money within the budget, but Chapter 44, Section 33 of state law allows city councils to add funds for specific expenditures if supporters can muster a two-thirds majority.

The aldermen voted 13-10, with one person absent, in favor of the measure at their meeting on Monday.

The board's programs and services committee will now take up several additional docket items, ranging from calling on the library trustees and the library director to explain their financial accounting to exploring public-private partnerships to keep the branches open. The branch libraries, which were shut down after a $12 million property tax override failed in May.

-- Rachana Rathi

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