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Library Looks For Roughly $130k Break On Building Fees

The building fees cover a cost to the town and also act as revenue.

"It's a big number and I wanted to put it on the table for discussion," First Selectman Rudy Marconi said last week.

He was talking about the roughly $130 thousand in building fees it would cost the library to build its new $20 million facility -- $5 million of which will come from town funds -- that the library wishes to have allieved because of its non-profit status.

"The town voted to give $5 million, and I don't think we should waive it," said Selectwoman Barbara Manners, echoing the sentiment of the board.

The building fees cover a cost to the town and also act as revenue.

Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark said the costs "should have been included in the budget."

Selectman Andrew Bodner suggested the fees not be waived but given at a discount: "I would suggest we don't waive the fees but offer a discount so we come away without cost, and the library still makes out well."

The Selectmen agreed with this for the most part.

"We gave them $5 million," said Ridgefield resident Dom D'Addario. "They should have calculated that, and we shouldn't give them another penny."

More research will be done to find out the legality and precedent of waiving fees for non-profits.

Tom Falconieri April 19, 2012 at 03:16 AM
wow more money for the library. When will it stop???
sebastian dangerfield April 19, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Well...the one thing is--not really sure that the fees are really 'taking' from taxpayers. If the building was not built, then no fees would exist. Its setting up a toll booth and waiving the cops through. Is that costing the toll booth money? No. It just isnt collecting the fee. The money isnt being spent. Its simply not going to be collected. Its a bit different. BUt, -nevertheless, it does show how amatuerish this committee/ government is. This committee told us operating expenses may be offset by a more efficient HVAC system. That might save 20k. Might. And Darien's operating expenses increased by 1.3 mio with their larger facility. Either they are indeed totally inept, or less than candid....but this library is going to cost this town--way more than 5 mio dollars. My guess over 20 years is a total of 20 mio dollars. But the way this town works is to just say yes to spending. Lets keep the unneccessary school open an extra year. Sure it might cost 8 mio dollars --but 'lets not jump the gun" Does anyone really not understand why governments run at a deficit? Its not a shortfall of revenue--its apathy and incompetence. Rudy doesnt seem to have any business sense whatsoever.
Tom Falconieri April 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Like i said this is just the beginning. More moneys will be asked of us in the future!!!
Tom Falconieri April 19, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Once again cant post !!!
Bob J April 19, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I am not sure I understand the controversy. The Library is a quasi-public entity that operates the town's public library for the town's people. I do not believe that the town charge these application or review fees for other public projects, such as the schools, the recreation center, etc. Finally, I believe that the "costs" associated with the review are not out-of-pocket costs, but rather the time of the town officials reviewing the application and they are on salary. Unless my assumptions (and they are based on some experience) are correct. I don't understand the controversy one tiny bit. P.S., If I am incorrect and there are actual out-of-pocket costs for third party services, then certainly, those should certainly be paid.
paul d. April 19, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Pretty clear by this thread that the arrogance is not limited to the pro-library people.
Katie Ryan O'Connor April 19, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Hi Tom + everyone, We are working out some/lots kinks in our comment moderation system. Your patience is appreciated! If you have made a comment and it hasn't appeared here yet email me at kathleen@patch.com and I'll do my best to troubleshoot.
Test123 April 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Testing 123
CommonSense April 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I agree with some of what you say, but I think you are way off base on the building fees. It's not just that the town collects the money and puts it in the bank. Those fees pay the salaries of all the people who have to make sure the building is up to code and safe and won't collapse and wont catch fire etc. I read in the newspaper that Andrew Bodner thinks we shouldn't charge the library anything over expenses, that we shouldn't make our usual profit on this type of transaction. What the heck? PROFIT?? Hello, the budget is a $120 million loss. That's after all the PROFIT has been counted. Andrew, there is no PROFIT in our government!
dord April 19, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Bob: I would consider waiving the fees for this "quasi-public entity" if they would agree to open their books like other public entities. I would like any resident to have access to the library's financials - including the details on fundraising. That's the way it works for the highway department and P&Z, I can ask them anything about their finances and they will come up with an answer. If the library wants to be treated like a public entity, then I think there should be a give and take. Open the books and I'll agree to cutting the fees. That would be fair wouldn't it?
Tom Falconieri April 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Then you pay it BOB i dont use the Library and i have never been in it and i am a Native. The whole thing is a SCAM NOT NECESSARY AND A HANGOUT FOR THE SCHOOLIES AND THEIR PLAY STATIONS. And further more a 20 Million dollar STAR BUCKS CLOAKED AS A LIBRARY. The whole thing is a waste of money and obsolette before one shovel of dirt is turned over. What a BOONDOGGLE!!!
Bob J April 20, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I don't think you understand my comment. Public projects are not subject to application fees as I understand it. This sure seems like a public project to me. I'm not sure telling me to pay for it is responsive or otherwise makes any sense. I guess my question is why wouldn't this be considered to be a "public" project? it's the public library.
Tom Falconieri April 20, 2012 at 01:30 AM
It is a non profit and does not belong to the TOWN and the town does not maintain it and or should not pay for insurance and everything else we TAX payers fork over to this organization. It costs the tax payers on this town MILLIONS in benefits salaries and everything else associated with it. basically in my view the TAX payers are paying for another WELFARE PROGRAM. Masked as a Library Plain and simple
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 03:47 AM
BobJ I tend to agree---as i said in my above post, if they let state troopers through a toll , is that costing money? By the looks of Tom Falcon, he thinks it is. The people who do these inspections are as you say, on salary.... so its not money out of pocket we are speaking about, but rather opportunity cost, if you will. You can charge the state trooper for going through a toll booth, but it doesnt make or cost money---as he is a public entity. However, in this case, to me, it simply speaks to the quality of budgeting and forecasting that was done in large part by the library board, but you cant exclude Rudy and co, for not bringing it up. In the paper today, the library guy says 'we were led to believe" Its too bad the Press doesnt have a reporter that can simply ask the logical question: what led you to believe they would be waived? " Its a very vague assertion, that the Press allows this guy to get away with. So my concern is , and has been, that we are dealing with less than capable people, who join boards like these, in order to get their name on some 'do-gooder' plaque, but in reality a lot of empty suits and yes -men. The issue for them now is that the town is obligated to pay operating expenses, but the libary committed to not raising the operating expenses for 2 years. Based on my observation, rudy will someone amortize the fees and allow them to be in essence paid for, but in a quasi loan form. Rudy never cares about taxpayers.
Retry April 20, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Bob J: I would consider waiving the fees for this "quasi-public entity" if they would agree to open their books like other public entities. I would like any resident to have access to the library's financials - including the details on fundraising. That's the way it works for the highway department and P&Z, I can ask them anything about their finances and they will come up with an answer. If the library wants to be treated like a public entity, then I think there should be a give and take. Open the books and I'll agree to cutting the fees. That would be fair wouldn't it?
Retry April 20, 2012 at 04:31 AM
PATCH: I agree that posting here has gotten very frustrating. A few of my posts never made it. They were caught in purgatory and then vanished.
John Symon April 20, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Didnt the Housing Authority have to pay building permit fees for the work on Prospect Ridge and Ballard Green? Didnt the Town SUE the Housing Authority for sewer hookup fees? Similar?
John Symon April 20, 2012 at 04:37 AM
"It's a big number and I wanted to put it on the table for discussion," First Selectman Rudy Marconi said last week. If it was a smaller number, would Rudy have done it on his own (which I don't believe ha can do, btw)?
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Retry Could you elaborate on what it is you think is valuable on opening the books? Not a tit-for-tat type thing...just curious as to why this would be a deal maker for you.
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 05:36 AM
John I dont know much about ridgefield housing authority, but my limited knowledge says that it's similar in that it is a quasi public agency. where the difference exists, i believe is that the housing authority outsources the management of the properties it owns to a real estate company from out of town, that is in this business to make a profit. So, you have to view the housing authority, i believe as a company-- and the library that i believe is a non-profit.
John Symon April 20, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Idk. Similar quasi government. Appointed by BoS. Town land.... Just a thought.
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 05:50 AM
yeah im not concerned of who appointed. The town pays the operating expenses of the library. The operating expenses and revenues of the Housing Authority are managed by a Boston Company. Charging fees to the library (without their convenant that stipulates no increase in operating expenses for the short term) would be an accounting gimmick. Charging fees to the housing authority, would be real money coming in...as that money would be paid by the Boston Company.
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 05:59 AM
As i said, Id be very interested to listen to this woman Chris Nolan-elaborate on how she was led to believe that the fees would be waived. Is this real? Is it in writing? Or is it the insertion of that familiar concept of, "i misunderstood/was mislead " when trying to escape responsibility for an error in planning. If there was a sincere indication from any of the negotiating parties that the fee would be waived--then that also needs to be considered....... However, if there is no evidence of this occurring, then Chris Nolan, should not be trying to impugn the reputations of the town selectmen, in order to cover her ass. Like I say, the Ridgefield Press , if it had any desire to inform the public--should have pursued this comment more vigourously........it's not inconsequential from any aspect. Either they had some indication--and there should be some effort to honor that indication, or Nolan is not being honest..... which has an entire collection of problems inherent in having a less than honest Library Director. The real long term concern here is --that the library board doesnt know what they are doing. You probably have 1 or 2 people who have an idea--and the others just nod their head yes.
Tom Falconieri April 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM
Bottom line here it is a SCAM BOONDOGGLE MAKE WORK SCHEAM PROMISE MAKING PAY BACK AND IT IT ALL PAID BY TAX DOLLARS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. PLAIN AND SIMPLE IT IS A BIG SCAM AND WE PAY THE FREIGHT AS USUAL. So call it a Quasi WHATEVER just like Housing Authority it is a MONEY SPONGE AS USUAL. Anf i for one domt like paying for it. Simply put if the M MAN did not scam the vote away from the NOE election we would not be having this discussion and the LIBRARY would be POUNDING SAND. Bottom line the library must be self sufficient and it is not. So that means we THE TAX PAYERS FLIP THE BILL. What a scam!!!!!!
Bob J April 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I don't see this as a quid-pro-quo on financials. The selectmen appoint 75% of the Library Board by agreement. The Library's mission is a public one. The building is a public one. It's that simple to me. If there are out-of-pocket consulting fees, then the library should pay those. Otherwise, the fees should be the same as with any other public building. Perhaps I am over simplifying things, but that's my whole problem with government-- and why I am turning into a devout Libertarian-- it spends way to much time making simple things complicated.
sebastian dangerfield April 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM
bob-agreed not only is it making simple things complicated---they rationalize spending too easily. Its a no brainer to close a school that is unnecessary--yet --since its other peoples money, they can think of postponing. Its like you have a house with a 5 acres and you hire 4 people to maintain the property. You move to a place with 1/3 of an acre-and you say "ill wait to change my staffing". It wouldnt happen anywhere else but government. Because one parent will cry about their kid needing to not move. Its nuts...its no longer about doing what is right for a community. Its now the community that needs to sacrifice for the individual. and if you dont comply--then you are an insensitive, republican who doesnt care about the little guy. To me--sometimes we need to understand that its the lone parent is the one being insensitive and selfish. It just never gets reported that way--because the press needs to fight for the little guy.
Bob J April 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I am not so sold on the school closing all of a sudden. I watched the demographics switch back after the last last time it was declared that an "aging population" didn't need that many schools, then all of a sudden, it cost 5 million just to re-open Branchville. I think that populations are way to fluid these days to not expect significant enough turnover in another 5-10 years so that teh school age population is again at a peak. If we close VP, for example, to save, let's say, a million a year, then if, in five years, we re-open it, we didn't save anything. Why? Because we would lose any "grandfathering" for code issues. And if it cost $5 million to re-open Branchville, I can't imagine how much it would cost to re-open VP, which is a much older school. These numbers are from my memory. But entitlement and needs aside, it's simple, scary math for me.
Tom Falconieri April 21, 2012 at 02:57 AM
BOB you are looking at this all wrong!!! The schoolies want to close a school. Reason being five years after it is closed some EINSTEIN discovers we need a new school because population has increased. So if we have a DEM in 400 main he will fabricate BUNDLE 2. This will insure the schoolies have another Brand New school in the future. They are so predictable and the scams just repeat themselves. Then the schoolies have another brand new school. That is the plan plain and simple. And MS LOW KNOWS THIS. She is as sly as a FOX . This is their GRAND PLAN PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!
HardCover April 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Bob J., if I understand your position correctly, the library should be considered a public entity and receive the perks associated with being a public entity, like no building fees. But at times, when convenient, they should be considered a private entity, so they can keep their books closed. Ok. Got it. Bob, another question for you. Should the library be governed by the rules in the town charter? Those rules offer guidance to other public town departments. Where should the library fall in this regard, responsible to the rules of the charter or no?
sebastian dangerfield April 22, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Paul d. By arrogance i mean believing you are above questioning. That we should have just yaken the word of the library board as omnicient. Time and time again, when legitimate questions were raised, the response was " this has already been gone over and you will just have to trust we know what we are doing." Or " i cant believe how rude people are; we raised 15 mio in private funds. Who are these people to question our appriach?" Those sort of attitudes and answers generally mask an underlying ignorance. People who are competent dont invoke defenses that revolve around decorum. They are happy to answer, because they want people to understand the informed logical approach they are pursuing. It was and is a red flag...when i read an unsubstantiated " we were led to believe commentary." That doesnt mean its not trye....it only is consistent with the way they respond. Arrogant and uninformative. Its a big concern. This will not be the last incidence of incompetence. Thats what you get when you dont want to be questioned. You get a result that demonstrates a resistance to listening.

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