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Village Vision News

Library committee saved from elimination with mayor’s tiebreaker vote

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mayor Hap Gilbert said he would vote the same way again if given another opportunity to save a Village volunteer committee from being dissolved.

The mayor’s comments came following the May 6 Board meeting in which he broke a tie vote in favor of retaining the Library Advisory Committee. Trustee Bob Rasho had advanced the motion to dissolve the committee and rely on the existing Library Commission composed of three appointed members, including the mayor and trustees Marilyn Johnson and Larry Reed.

Rasho said that evening that he and other trustees lacked understanding when they made an earlier decision to retain the Library Advisory Committee. At that time, it was not fully understood that the existing Library Commission could serve to satisfy the requirements of the Library Code and thus eliminate the need for the committee.

In mid-April, trustees had disbanded most of Forsyth’s volunteer citizen advisory committees with the exception of the Library Advisory Committee and the Tree Board. Included in the changes was the elimination of trustees who served as committee chairs since, according to Village Administrator Heather Kimmons, the “...majority [of trustees] thought it best to remove that political element from the committees.” At the May 6 Board meeting, she mirrored Rasho and trustees Marilyn Johnson and Kerstin Trachtenberg’s vote with her recommendation that the Board eliminate the Library Advisory Committee and turn to the Library Com- mission to maintain compliance with statutory requirements.

However, Mayor Gilbert said the commission has limitations since there is no citizen input. “The Library Commission is not set up to discuss the kind of things the Library Committee deals with ... the Library Committee discusses day-to-day issues and is a valuable tool to help the head librarian to ad- minister functions of the library,” he said. The regular monthly meetings of the Library Committee serve as a touchstone for continued excellence, he observed, while the Library Commission deals with legal matters and meets “whenever.”

After its first meeting without a trustee chair and with Campbell serving as the facilitator, the Library Advisory Committee recommended to the Board that it reinstate former chair Larry Reed as the continuing chair. Campbell said the committee’s recommendation was not meant to disparage her role in serving the committee. She said the committee “...felt disenfranchised” without Reed, who for the past four years, has provided the link with the Board. She said the committee’s request came because of Reed’s proven leadership and “...consistent interest and willingness to help with and take part in library events.”

Among the proponents for retain- ing the Library Advisory Committee were trustees Eric Morr, Steve Hubbard and Reed. Morr went on record early when he stated during an April 18 Board meeting that he was “...not in favor of getting rid of the Library Committee.” He praised the current committee membership as a “...small, dedicated group” which he treats differently from other past committees. However, neither he nor other trustees pursued an additional motion in favor of retaining Reed as the committee’s chair.

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