Immersed in a heavy air of futility created by a disagreed-upon section of the Ridgefield town charter Tuesday evening, the Board of Finance discussed and ultimately refused the March 13 standalone referendum for a $5 million contribution to the library renovation earlier approved by the Board of Selectmen.
Besides that, though, nothing really changes.
With a vote of 3-2 against the early referendum -- Board Chair Dave Ulmer, Vice-Chair Paul Sutherland and Jill Bornstein opposed -- the vote has little bearing on what is to come, but the board held a lengthy discussion nonetheless regarding the details of the renovation and the implications of an early vote.
All five members at the table approved the agreement set forth by both the Board of Selectmen and the Library Board but disagreed about the timing of the referendum which is to take place roughly two months before the regular budget vote in May.
Despite their votes, all five members at some point showed concern for the implications of an early referendum.
Ulmer said, as others have before him, that voter turnout is something to think about.
"We can get up to 35 percent of the voters out in a regular referendum, and in a special referendum it can be about half of that," Ulmer said. "The more voters that approve this, the more comfortable we'll be with it."
Besides turnout, finance board members invoked the voters' experience as a reason to wait for the May referendum -- for voters to see the library renovation as one of many requests made by departments in Ridgefield, it would put the decision in context.
With the vote taking place two months before the rest of the budget, the library would stand alone as a separate capital item.
"The annual budget process is there to give voters a look at all the costs to the town," Bornstein said. "It belongs as a part of the budget process."
A town meeting and public hearing will take place 7:30 p.m. tonight (Wed.) at Veterans Park Elementary School to discuss the library project.