Salem supervisor critical of Twin Lakes library agreement amendments

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If the Community Library governing agreement is opened up again to make amendments sought by Twin Lakes, then state rules specifying more representation on the board for larger municipalities should be implemented too, a Salem supervisor and member of the the library board said Monday night.

Supervisor Patrick O’Connell made the comments at a regular Salem Town Board meeting during supervisor reports.

Twin Lakes is seeking changes to the agreement to add provisions that would have expenses and revenues tracked on a per branch basis, including a proration of joint revenues and expenses. The Community Library has branches in Salem, Silver Lake and Twin Lakes.

Twin Lakes officials have been dissatisfied with the number of programs hosted at the Twin Lakes branch and they contend funds from their taxpayers are used to disproportionately fund the operations of the other branches.

The Twin Lakes Village Board tabled a motion to withdraw from the Community Library late last month when it made the proposal for the changes.

Any change to the governing agreement would have to be approved by the village and town boards of the five member municipalities: Twin Lakes, Salem, Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake.

O’Connell was critical of the Twin Lakes initiative and even the reasons for them. He contended village officials have complained about inequity of service “without any numerical proof.” About the new changes to the agreement he said “I think they are making demands more than anything else.”

O’Connell’s position on representation on the Community Library governing board is a turnaround from last year when he defended the current two reps from each municipality system. State statutes — enacted after the Community Library was formed — call for representation on joint library boards to reflect the relative populations of member municipalities. Salem, the largest municipality by far, could conceivably have double the reps than any other municipality on such a board.

O’Connell acknowledged he formerly supported equal representation because it had worked well through the years, but he sees the Twin Lakes initiative as changing the issue for him.

“Anytime they open up that agreement, (board representation) is going to be on the table …,” O’Connell said. “If they want to leave the Community Library, I think that would be fine with everyone else.”

Representatives of the municipalities are expected to meet yet this month to discuss Twin Lakes’ proposals.

O’Connell’s reversal on the representation issues gives him an unusual ally on the matter. When population based representation was last discussed, Salem town Chariman Linda Valentine was about its only advocate. Valentine and O’Connell regularly spar verbally on a variety of issues, as they did on other issues Monday night. But they are now in the same camp on population based representation on the library board.

“I agree with everything you just said,” Valentine said at one point after O’Connell’s statement.


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