Minutes August 11, 2009
The Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees held a Called Meeting on August 11, 2009 at the Administrative Office at 6:00 PM. Present were Board members Phyllis Oxendine-Chair, Dale Todd-Vice Chair, Babs Wagoner-Treasurer, Margaret Tiller-Secretary and Phillip Saxton. Administrative staff members present were Nancy Stanbery-Kellam-Executive Director, Liz Forster-Deputy Director, Jane Walters-Business Services Director, Barbara Spruill-Branch Services Director, Deborah George-Materials Management Director, Michelle Long-Public Relations Director, Michael Casey-Information Technology Director, Eamon Shelton-Capital Projects Manager, Denise Auger-Community Partnership Coordinator, Victoria Kidd-Five Forks Branch Manager, Anna Rubin-Duluth Branch Manager and Pamela Covington-Executive Assistant. Phyllis called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM.
Phyllis stated the meeting would begin by requesting a motion to limit discussion during the Called Board meeting to five minutes per Board member, per motion. Phillip questioned the need for a discussion time limit. Phyllis stated the Called Board meeting needed to be handled in a speedy manner as everyone had time to study the issues. Phillip stated he did not feel Board members had time to study all the issues, and he wanted to discuss the paper he sent out regarding increasing library revenues so the Hamilton Mill branch could be opened. Phyllis stated Phillip's revenue paper could be discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting in September, as the called meeting requested by Nancy and the administrative staff was to vote on the items the meeting was called for. Motion by Wagoner to limit Board members discussion during the Called Board meeting to five minutes per member, per motion, seconded by Tiller, Saxton opposed, Dale Todd not present yet. Motion passed
FY2010 Security and Shelver Budget Adjustment
Jane reported the FY2010 library budget includes expenditures for Security at six library branch locations and Shelvers at all locations. Security and Shelver expenses were recorded based on the anticipation of receiving County Program Modifications. Since the County has asked all departments and agencies to reduce CY2010 funding by 10%, it is apparent that the library will not receive funding for these expenditures, and the library no longer has the resources to pay for these expenses. As of August 9, 2009, the library discontinued Security and Shelvers at all branches. The FY2010 budget needs to be adjusted, reducing operations by $215,613 for the Security expense and Personnel by $198,557 for the Shelver expense. Phillip requested discussion on the budget adjustment stating the memo had an error. Phillip stated his understanding was that the County asked department head agencies to reduce the CY2010 funding by 9% not 10%. Jane stated at County meetings the request was 9% to 10% and most of the discussions at the County had been 10%. Jane reported the County reduced the library budget a little over 9%. Phillip stated his understanding was, according to Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, the Commissioners asked that funding be reduced by 9%. Phillip suggested the Board not proceed without the correct budget reduction percentage. Jane stated the 10% mentioned in the memo is more of an informational item. It could list 9% or 10%. The dollar amounts listed are based on the Shelver and Security expenses that are left in the budget as of August 9 after both of the items were discontinued. Jane stated the Shelver and Security expenses have never been funded by the County. Phillip asked how long the money would remain out of the budget and if it was permanent. Jane stated it would remain permanent until the County decides to provide the funding. Nancy reported the library has funded the Security and Shelver expense up until now. Every year, the library submits a Program Modification to the County requesting funds for Security and Shelvers, but the County has never approved it. The library cannot afford to fund the Security and Shelvers expense. Until those funds are provided, the library will not have those services. Motion by Wagoner to decrease the Operations budget by $215,613 and the personnel budget by $198,557 and decrease the fund balance requirement by the total amount of $414,170, seconded by Todd, Tiller approved, Saxton abstained. Motion passed 3-1.
FY2010 Hamilton Mill Budget Adjustment
Jane reported the FY2010 library budget includes Personnel and Materials expenses for the new Hamilton Mill branch. Since the County Commissioners eliminated the annual funding for this branch, and the library does not have the resources to pay for these annual expenses, the FY2010 budget needs to be adjusted to remove the Hamilton Mill expenditures from the budget for Personnel $733,780 and Materials $141,600. Phillip stated he had some serious questions about the budget adjustment. He stated the memo was in error because the County Commissioners did not eliminate annual funding for the Hamilton Mill branch. Phillip reported talking with Commissioner Mike Beaudreau and collaborating that the County Commissioners did not eliminate the annual budget for the branch. Nancy reported the County started the funding for the branch but then had to eliminate it. Jane referenced the Budget Resolution passed at the County Commissioners Meeting. Eamon stated the library submitted a Program Modification to the County, as was done for Dacula and Grayson when they opened, for operating funds in the amount of $1.5 million which included staffing and materials. The County chose not to fund that and it was listed as a line item in the budget reductions for the CY2010 County Budget preparations. Nancy stated the funds were eliminated from the working budget the County is preparing for CY2010. Jane stated administrative staff attended a meeting with Aaron Bovas, County CFO, to discuss the elimination of the funding for the branch. Phillip stated his concern was a library branch that cost $7.4 million which would be completed in December sitting empty for an entire year until the County voted to put the money back in the budget. Phillip stated it is not up to the County Commissioner's to decide which libraries to open or which libraries to close; it is up to the Library Board. Phillip stated the community has waited over 8 years for a library in the Hamilton Mill area. The people in that community work hard and are very active politically and would expect the Library Board, appointed by elected officials, to find other ways to fund the branch. There are ways in which we can open the Hamilton Mill Library without using such a broad sword such as moving staff around and using volunteers. Phillip also mentioned Renee Unterman worked hard to get the $2 million state grant, and if the branch is not opened, the $2 million may have to be returned. Phillip suggested delaying the opening, perhaps not an entire year, but about three months to provide time to increase revenues. Nancy stated the budget adjustment is budget cleanup. The library asked for and anticipated the funding, but since it was not received, the budget adjustment has to be done to reflect that. Nancy reported administrative staff do have a recommendation on how the Hamilton Mill branch can be opened which will be discussed next. Phillip requested modifying the motion by tabling it until the September meeting. Since a motion and a second were already made, a vote was called for. Motion by Todd to decrease the Personnel budget by $733,780 and the Materials budget by $141,600 and decrease the fund balance requirement by the total amount of $875,380, seconded by Wagoner, Tiller Approved, Saxton opposed. Motion passed 3-1. Phillip requested the record show he is against the budget adjustment.
Dacula/Hamilton Mill Branches
Nancy stated she would read from the paper she worked very hard on to ensure clear communication. "With this last budget adjustment we are acknowledging that the County did not provide funding for the annual operations of Hamilton Mill. However, there is a great desire to open this branch. This is the wish of the library staff, the Library Board, the Commissioners, and our community. Our budget cannot absorb the $1.4 million; the ongoing annual cost of operating a 20,000 square foot branch. With all of this in mind, we looked at the Hamilton Mill service area as well as other branches in close proximity. We also considered what we have always anticipated with the opening of the Hamilton Mill branch that it will impact area branches. We have always known that while Hamilton Mill will provide service for new customers, it will also draw customers from the Dacula and Buford branch. Dacula is a 20,000 square foot building with the size staff that we need for Hamilton Mill. Buford is a 10,000 square foot building and just does not have the staffing numbers that we would need. We are planning to close Dacula in order to open Hamilton Mill. Redistributing staff is a budget neutral change that will allow us to open this, our first LEED building, which should also be more efficient to operate. This would also provide an opportunity to realize some cost savings to the Hamilton Mill opening day collection. Reassigning the majority of the Dacula collection will allow us to reduce what we are spending out of our capital budget on this collection. We have also looked at better ways to utilize this space through repurposing the facility. While there are several options on the table, we are particularly interested in having a place to put the collection with greater depth that we have wanted to start developing for some time now. We have been requesting space from the County for three years but no space has been available. This collection would serve our customers now, but would also be the core collection for a future central library. A collection like this is invaluable as it will progressively save on Interlibrary Loan (ILL) requests as well as establish a collection that we might not otherwise be able to assemble due to cost and availability when the time comes for the central library of our future. We would like your support in this change in branch service". Phillip stated absolutely not. Phillip questioned why close Dacula which is a new library to open up Hamilton Mill. Why not close the Lawrenceville Library. Nancy stated the Lawrenceville Library is not in the same service area. Staff anticipated that Dacula and Buford customers would go to Hamilton Mill when it opens since it is in the same service area. Phillip stated the effect of the budget cuts will be borne by people living in District 3, Commissioner Beaudreau's district, as opposed to the other districts. There are a lot of people who are very upset in District 3 and in Commissioners Kenerly's district about these kinds of actions. Phillip stated to put the library system in the middle of a political uproar doesn't make any sense when there are better alternatives of increasing revenues to keep all libraries open. Phillip discussed ways to increase the library's self generated revenues of 1.3 million: hiring someone to manage volunteers; charging working citizens who can afford it for a library card (not children); reducing the schedule of all libraries and moving staff around. Phillip stated the Library Board should not rubber stamp everything that comes across the table. Phyllis stated the library has never and will never charge Gwinnett County citizens for a library card. Citizen's pay for library cards and services when they pay their County taxes. Charging only certain citizens (employed who can afford it) would be discrimination. Everyone who is a citizen of Gwinnett County is going to have the opportunity to come in, apply for a card, and get a card. The system charges $30 for people out of the County and that is understandable since they are using the services. Phillip stated several people said they would be happy to pay for a library card. Dale suggested that citizen's could make a donation to the library system. Phyllis mentioned she has been on the Board for five years, has a mind of her own and does not rubber stamp anything. Phyllis stated she doesn't feel any of the Board members, including Phillip, rubber stamp anything. Phillip stated the Board should not do these kinds of things in secret but in the presence of citizens and the media. Phyllis stated the meeting was not a Closed Meeting but a Called Board Meeting. The Georgia Open Meeting Law requires announcing Called Meetings 24 hours in advance. The Called Board Meeting was posted in all branches, on the web site, and there are two people from the press in attendance. Phyllis stated the Board has to trust Nancy and the administrative staff to do their jobs, and she does trust Nancy, Jane and the administrative staff and knows they are working far and beyond anything the Board could ask especially in these hard economic times. Nancy explained this is a budget neutral move. The Dacula staff would not be transferred to Hamilton Mill. Administration will look at staff as a whole, review staff requests for transfer to Hamilton Mill, and review the staff's skill sets to assemble the group. Nancy stated the administrative staff does not make decisions based on politics. The administrative staff looked at the service area. If Duluth were closed to open Hamilton Mill, the distance would not make sense. Phyllis asked Nancy if administrative staff had met with Chairman Bannister and Jock Connell. Nancy reported administrative staff met with Chairman Bannister, Jock Connell and Phil Hoskins to present the proposal which they supported stating it is up to the library to determine how to spend revenue. They also realized the County had not increased the budget to provide for additional staff and operating funds for Hamilton Mill; therefore, the library would have to do something. County staff knew the proposal was for the same service area. Nancy stated both Buford and Dacula are 7 miles from Hamilton Mill, all the same service area. Board members and administrative staff continued to discuss revenue, reserve funds, Capital Projects and repurposing the Dacula branch to better serve the organization. Phyllis presented the motion, Dale called the question. Dale made the motion. Phillip requested the motion be tabled until the September meeting. Phillip requested an amendment to not proceed until an opportunity to completely study the ramifications and the implementation of same at the next board meeting. Phillip asked Board members if they knew about this request before tonight. Board members responded they did not. Phillip requested the County Attorney be present at the next meeting to discuss whether or not the motion was viable and whether or not the board needs to take action on such a motion without having been pre-informed of it, and was the Board behaving in a legal way. Phyllis stated legally the board can vote on any motion regarding policy. The Board has no purview over staffing or anything to do with personnel. The Board can do two things: hire/fire a Director and vote on policy. That is all the board does. The administrative staff presented these motions to me tonight when I arrived. It is the Board's job to vote on policy. Phillip questioned why the decision had to be made tonight without an opportunity to study it. Nancy stated the County had held items related to Capital Projects including an FF&E package (furniture, fixtures and equipment) for Hamilton Mill. If it is not passed at the next Commissioners Meeting, it will have to go back out to bid. To move forward and open Hamilton Mill as scheduled, preparations need to begin now. Phyllis stated she has never worked with a finer group of people, and I include you in that group Phillip, all trying to do the right thing for the library. Phyllis stated she never thought in her lifetime she would ever see the library have to close two days per week. No one saw this bad economy coming and the whole country is suffering. With the question being called and the motion made, a vote was called for. Motion by Todd to close the Dacula branch in order to staff the Hamilton Mill Library in a budget neutral manner and that the Dacula building be repurposed for other library needs, seconded by Tiller, Wagoner approved, Saxton opposed. Motion passed 3-1.
Motion by Todd at 7:10 PM to adjourn the Called Board Meeting, seconded by Tiller, Wagoner agreed, Saxton abstained. Motion passed 3-1.
Minutes submitted by Pamela Covington for Margaret Tiller, Board Secretary.