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Decisions due on library funding, vacant board seat

While the city gears up to meet its financial obligation to the library, the City Council must make a decision about how Mayor Vince Anello has proposed filling a vacancy on the library board of trustees.

State Supreme Court Justice Vincent E. Doyle decided this month that the city appropriated $2.1 million for the library in its 2005 budget, and a $1 million transfer at the start of the year didn't meet its obligation.

The board of trustees sued the city to gain the full $2 million after a plan to fully fund the library through a separate tax failed with voters in June.

The board's lawyer, Edward Perlman, estimated this month that the balance of the allocation would be a little more than $500,000. That figure doesn't include $302,681 in rent for the Earl W. Brydges Library building owed to the city, or $15,000 in revenue earned by the library from copy charges and late book dues, he said.

The library, though, may not need the full amount, Perlman said Friday.

"It is anticipated there will be a surplus this year, and the library is willing to work with the city on, perhaps, not taking that surplus," he said.

Anello said the city can't afford anything beyond an additional $80,000 per month allocation for the library that the Council approved this summer. He said jobs would have to be cut to provide more funding, but an early New York Power Authority payout expected this fall as part of its Niagara Power Project relicensing agreement would not be used for the library because it is not an economic development project.

Council Chairman Charles Walker said the city will find whatever funding the library needs. "The judge has ordered us to pay it, so we have to pay it," he said. "Whatever we have to do, we have to do it, whether it be Power Authority money or opening the budget."

A vacant seat was left on the board of trustees after Doyle decided that Morton Abramowitz was appointed illegally by the other four members.

Anello asked the Council to approve former Council Secretary Muriel S. White in a last-minute resolution at Monday's Council meeting.

That issue was tabled, and now police records involving a harassment report filled out by Library Director Betty Babanoury have surfaced and may sway the Council's decision.

Babanoury filed the reports late last year when several threatening notes were slipped under her apartment door, one note allegedly containing the typed name of Muriel J. White, according to the police records.

White, who lives in the same Niagara Falls condominium complex as Babanoury, said Friday that she didn't write the notes and that the animosity between the two stems from a dispute over the building's board of directors.

White was the first City Council secretary and served for 19 years. She would have been elected to the Library Board in 2001 if a school district library referendum had passed that year.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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