Salem amends library agreement to 9 member board

bookshelf-mf-jppi_optThe Salem Town Board on Monday rejected Paddock Lake’s version of a new Community Library agreement and instead amended it to have a nine-member governing board.

The Paddock Lake agreement called for a 10-member board.

The Community Library is a joint library for the municipalities of Salem, Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake. All five of the Community Library municipalities have been considering a new joint operating agreement that realigns the membership on the governing board to meet current state statutes, which call for membership to be apportioned by municipal population. Since its founding in the 1980s, the Community Library board has had two members from each municipality. The desire to keep the two members per municipality arrangement was so strong that most of the members agreed to create a side agreement that would have Salem effectively give some of its board appointments to other municipalities to restore the two per municipality governing board. But Paddock Lake officials objected to the side agreement because they felt it conflicted with state statutes and they sought a formal opinion from the state Department of Public Instruction. In March, Paddock Lake officials received that opinion, which said the side agreement was non-compliant. The state Department of Public Instruction, which oversees libraries, had threatened to cut off some funding to the Community Library if the board did not come into compliance with the state statute.

Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake and Silver Lake had approved the new agreement calling for the 10-member board, with four members from Salem, two from Twin Lakes and one each from Paddock Lake, Silver Lake, Randall and an additional rep that rotated between the two local high school districts.

On Monday, Salem town administrator Patrick Casey said he did not recommend the board approve the agreement drafted by Paddock Lake because of the school representative. If the desire was to make sure the agreement complies with state statutes, then the school representative should be dropped, he said. The state statute on joint libraries makes no mention of school representation.

Casey offered alternative apportioned by population board makeups for an 11-member board and a nine-member board. The board favored the nine member configuration, essentially taking the 10-member configuration and dropping the potentially troublesome school representative.

“Frankly, I don’t think the schools will mind,” said town Chairman Diann Tesar. She also noted that the town typically has had trouble filling two library board slots, let alone four.

Casey recommended that at least one of Salem’s library board members also be  Town Board member.

The motion to amend the agreement with a nine-member board was approved unanimously.

Since a change was made to the agreement, the amended agreement will now need to be reconsidered by all five municipalities, Casey said.

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