Salem to investigate keeping library board reps as is

SN850422Salem’s town attorney has been instructed to investigate the legalities of keeping the  Community Library Board representation as it currently is — two members per municipality — instead of by population.

The vote to have attorney Richard Scholze look into the matter passed on a voice vote of the Salem Town Board. It appeared Salem Chairman Linda Valentine, who has said she favored a board apportioned by population, did not vote on the matter.

The issue arose because of the discovery that state statutes require joint library boards to be apportioned by population of the member municipalities. That would give Salem at least four members, Twin Lakes two, and Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake one each.

The issue was discussed at a recent meeting of municipal chairmen and presidents and their respective municipal attorneys. All present at that meeting favored continuing the current arrangement, except Valentine, who favors moving toward the population based model.

Representatives of the Randall, Twin Lakes and Silver Lake boards attended the Salem meeting Monday night.

In supporting her position, Valentine said she feels it’s important to follow state statutes.

“My concern is that we have a set of bylaws that are not in accordance with state law,” Valentine said.  “If we let things stay the way they are, we would willingly and knowingly violate state statutes.”

But Twin Lakes President Howard Skinner said the population requirement did not exist when the library agreement between the five municipalities was created in 1992, and therefore should not apply to the Community Library.

“I recommend we leave the agreement as it stands,” Skinner said.

Similar sentiment was expressed by Salem Supervisor Patrick O’Connell who sits on the Library Board.

“The state is not going to do anything unless someone complains about it from a board,” O’Connell said. “I think the state is going to give the library great leeway.”

After the board passed the resolution directing Scholze to look into the legality of the matter,  Supervisor Joseph Meier made a motion that the Community Library Board composition be maintained as is in the meantime. That motion passed unanimously, including Valentine.


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