By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
Belleville Area District Library treasurer Elaine Gutierrez asked the library board to send a letter thanking Sumpter Township for its recent letter and resolution for the possible use of Elwell School as the main library site.
She finished the thought of George Chedraue, who was asking the board for a reply to Sumpter.
Gutierrez’s request of fellow board members was during the library board’s regular meeting Dec. 11.
The board agreed that the library agreement states that the main library needs to be in a central location and cannot be in Sumpter Township. Also in the agreement, Sumpter needs to provide the building for a satellite site.
Board members agreed this is a moot point since the school board’s decision on Dec. 10 to demolish the Elwell building.
Library Board chairman Mary Jane Dawson said the library agreement contains specific obligations that the main library building must be sited within a specific geographic area: South of I-94 and north of Bemis.
She said the board is looking at a central location of population density and under those parameters, the board welcomes all suggestions for a site.
Board member Mike Boelter said he gets asked all the time on the location of the new district library and was asked about a possible traffic problem at the DNR site, which is the site now under consideration.
He said he contacted the road commission and MDOT.
“This is a long and tedious process and we’re just trying to get it right,” Boelter said of the search for a library site. “There are guidelines in the agreement that we didn’t write, but we have to follow.”
Mary Ban of Sumpter Township offered her thoughts on Elwell School and her disappointment with the Van Buren Schools’ decision to tear it down as it was the taxpayers that paid for the building that sits on 37 acres.
Chairman Dawson gave a history of the forming of the Belleville Area District Library and the agreement hammered out between representatives from the three municipalities over a two-year period that took effect in April 2012. Copies of the agreement are available at the library and in the offices of Belleville, Van Buren, and Sumpter.
Dawson emphasized that just like the school board, the library board represents all residents of Sumpter, Belleville, and Van Buren Township in one 72-square-mile district.
Dawson said the library board has met with local property owners, state, county, local elected officials and consulted with experts who are proficient in various aspects of library building and design.
During public comments, Chedraue asked if the library board has spoken with other elected officials in the tri-community.
Dawson said she has spoken with Paul White, Carol Thompson, Susan Ireland, and Jennifer Wright. From Sumpter she said she has spoken with Alan Bates, William Hamm, Don Swinson, and Supervisor Vawters.
In other business at the Dec. 11 meeting, the library board:
• Adjourned to a 20-minute executive session to consider the employee evaluation of Library Director Debra Green. The board went into regular session to approve her continuation as director until Dec. 10, 2013. A 2.5% raise was offered, but was turned down by Green;
• Learned attorney John Day has sent the appraisal of the Department of Natural Resources property to the DNR for review;
• Reviewed a budget report for the first quarter of the 2012-13 fiscal year (July-September). Consultant Ron Traskos said on the whole the library was running under budget by $48,501. The long, hot summer attributed to the utilities being $1,997 higher than expected, but they gained $9,950 from the elimination of bank fees. Traskos suggested the tax dollars be pro-rated for each quarter instead of every six months. The annual audit and a six-month review of the current budget will be held at the Jan. 8 meeting;
• Learned four full-time librarians and head of circulation Michelle Wloch attended the Michigan Library Association annual conference and came back with a resolve to begin literacy training in the community; and
• Reviewed articles provided by Green about the possible elimination of personal property taxes by the state and the effect on the library. Currently the district library receives $155,289 from personal property tax.
The three recently re-elected board members – Michael Boelter, Joy Cichewicz and John Juriga — will be sworn in by 34th District Court Judge David Parrott just before the Jan. 8 meeting.
By Diane Madigan