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Library director defends Bookmobile transfer

The Essex County Board of Supervisors.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The director of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin County Library System said the choice to give the Bookmobile back to the three counties was a matter of ownership.

Speaking to members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors during its Ways and Means Committee meeting June 25, Charles Thompson said that CEF board members decided to give the Bookmobile back to the counties that purchased it.

“It was not our idea to serve the Bookmobile up to you folks,” Thompson said. “As part of one of our meetings, the emergency services guy from Clinton County came to us with the idea. Since the three counties has funded the purchase of the Bookmobile by two-thirds, we thought that it made sense to turn it back to the counties. That is the full extent of our motivation.”

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava questioned why the organization would not want to sell the vehicle, which is no longer needed since the Bookmobile program was stopped due to lack of funding.

“I remember last year at budget time there were some people here from your organization,” Scozzafava said. “We were told it would be devastating if we were to make that cut. Why would you not want $100,000 for your agency?”

“I'm sure we would like that,” Thompson said. “(The counties) asked, and we responded. I support the decision, and I think that it made sense.”

Thompson also said that the fear from their agency was that the county was going to completely eliminate funding for the program, which supervisors had originally proposed for the 2012 budget. Eventually, funding was only partially cut.

“You had cut us out totally, which would have been devastating because the state can then cut us down twice as much,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with the Bookmobile; there is nothing up our sleeves. This is the quickest way and fairest way to solve the extra asset problem. If the three counties can use it, then the remaining economic value can be used by the primary funder. If you do not use it, then we will just take it and sell it.”

Two weeks earlier, Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said the counties of Franklin and Clinton approached him about using the former Bookmobile as a mobile command post that would be able to coordinate different radio systems to allow for better communications.

Jaquish said that the proposal would not add any expenses.

The resolution on the matter was tabled for further research and discussion at a later date.

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