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Plans for new facility in Aurora are shaky

The long-debated need for a joint municipal government center for the Town of Aurora and Village of East Aurora -- that would include an expanded library -- seemed headed toward a referendum this November.

But that may be falling apart, if town leaders have their way.

"My concerns relate to the economy," Aurora Supervisor Jolene Jeffe said Monday. "Several unknowns have popped up. Now, there's a need for a new fire hall, which would displace our senior center. This new facility would not address that."

It's a bit of deja vu, since town and village leaders were at odds over what should be done just a few years ago and disagreement almost killed the state's $400,000 grant to explore a shared municipal facility for the community.

A new effort and study were initiated, and the grant was preserved until news now that the town may not be willing to put the recommended project before the public for a vote.

Jeffe did not embrace a unanimous recommendation by the Shared Municipal Services Committee last fall, which calls for an $8.9 million joint municipal building, including an expanded library, at the corner of Main and Whaley streets.

The existing library would be used for town and village offices and an expanded library would be added on with all three under one roof.

Jeffe's comments -- along with a majority of other Town Board members concerned about the debt to finance such a project -- is in stark contrast to what village and library officials thought was a given: a public vote to be held in the fall to let residents decide on the issue.

A month ago, the village formally supported the recommended project to go forward to a referendum. The library's board of directors also was on the same page as the village.

Aurora Library Board president Deborah Carr-Hoagland demanded Monday that the Town Board hold a joint public meeting in July with the Village Board, including a public hearing.

Last week's town work session was the first public sign that town officials were having second thoughts. Jeffe said more than 17 percent of the town's $2.8 million general fund budget is tied to existing debt service.

"That's one of the struggles I have in putting this out for referendum," she said.


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