This letter to the editor was submitted by Scotch Plains Councilman Lou Beckerman.
I read with great interest Republican Council Candidate Llewellyn Jones recent attack on me regarding this year’s budget for the Scotch Plains Library. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
Mr. Jones, I am proud of my record of fiscal responsibility on the Scotch Plains Council. Times are tough and we have had to make tough decisions. The people in Scotch Plains elected a Democratic Majority last year because they wanted a change. We can’t go back to the days of recklessly increasing taxes. We have to live within our means. The library is fully funded as is called for by New Jersey State law. It is time to stop making this a political issue and instead, do what is right for the people of Scotch Plains.
The amount that the Town Council includes in the budget for its municipal library is set by State law. It was done this way so that the libraries in the State weren’t shortchanged by local politicians in an effort to balance their budgets. Scotch Plains has fully funded the library this year based on what the law is.
You might not be aware of this Mr. Jones, but in the municipal budget, the only department that has the ability to hold onto unspent funds after the end of a fiscal year is the library. At the end of 2012, the Boards of Directors at the Scotch Plains Library were sitting on approximately $60,000 in unspent funds.
Now while I agree with Mr. Jones that the reduction in hours at the library is a case of wrong priorities. The priorities in question are that of the Board of Directors. They, not the council, are the ones who determine what hours the library is open. They have sufficient funds to operate the Library this year. Our libraries hours are comparable to neighboring towns such as Fanwood.
Louis Beckerman, Councilman
Township of Scotch Plains