Northampton library suing the City over control

The library is almost entirely funded by taxpayer dollars

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Trustees of Forbes Library are suing the City of Northampton. It’s a matter of who makes decisions for the library.

In a complaint filed Friday, the trustees insist the library was passed down in a will, and isn’t a government building.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz told 22News that may be true, but the library is almost entirely funded by taxpayer dollars.

So, although he’s not looking to override the trustees’ authority, the city government should be able to participate in certain conversations.

Below is the Mayor’s entire statement on the Forbes Library lawsuit:

I am disheartened by the decision of the elected Trustees of Forbes Library to file suit against the City of Northampton. I have been a strong supporter of Forbes Library both as Mayor, as City Councilor, and as a city resident and library patron. My proposed FY2017 city budget would appropriate over $1.2 million in tax dollars to Forbes Library, which would represent a 3.2% increase and over 95% of its operating budget. My administration has also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for capital improvements to the library.

Since becoming, Mayor, I have been engaged in a dialogue with the Trustees of Forbes Library about how to properly fund and maintain this beloved institution. I felt that we were having productive conversations. Unfortunately, the Trustees have unilaterally terminated those discussions and chosen to litigate instead.

My administration has no interest in usurping the authority of the Trustees in the day-to-day operations of the library. One of the longstanding challenges that pre-dates my administration, is how an institution initiated by a 19th century will and now funded almost entirely by city tax payers interfaces with the requirements of 21st century open government. Despite the unnecessary and potentially costly actions taken by the Trustees, I stand ready to continue our discussions toward what I know is our shared interest in the future vitality of Forbes Library.

22News will continue to follow this story, and provide you with the latest information, on-air and on WWLP.com, as it develops.

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