The Belleville Area District Library Board held a special, 28-minute meeting Monday night, Nov. 5, and unanimously passed a motion to pay appraiser Bob Vogt another $1,500 for his work on its behalf.
Board President Mary Jane Dawson said Vogt told her the appraisal of the Spencer residential property next to the DNR property north of the Belleville Bridge took more work than expected.
Dawson said Vogt told her as soon as he had a letter of intention that the board would pay the extra $1,500, he would send to the board a digital and a hard copy of the appraisals of the DNR and Spencer properties.
This makes a total of $5,500 the board is paying Vogt for his assessments.
Resident Mike Renaud said he couldn’t understand why the library board had a special meeting on Nov. 5, when it would be holding its regular meeting on Nov. 13.
“What was the urgency?” he asked.
Dawson said the board wanted to have it in hand before the next meeting so it could be discussed then.
(After the meeting, Renaud noted that the board was sure to discuss the appraisals in closed session, the way it has done everything concerning the property in the past.)
Dawson said Vogt was hired to do the appraisal on the DNR property and the original agreement was $2,000 retainer, paid in April, and then another $2,000 when complete for a total of $4,000.
Special appraisers were sought out to satisfy the specifications set by the DNR, which owns the property on the lake being considered for a new district library. The board considered three appraisers and hired Vogt.
Dawson said library board representatives, including attorney John Day and architect Dan Whisler, walked the DNR property in July with three people from the DNR and representatives from Van Buren Township. A woman from the DNR asked that the residence for sale next door to the property also be appraised by the same criteria. This was what raised the bill another $1,500, Dawson said.
Board members said Vogt should have revised his price then, but didn’t.
The DNR reportedly has 15 pages of checklists and that’s what it wanted for the Spencer residence, too.
“He’s got us over a barrel,” said board treasurer Elaine Gutierrez.
“We can’t see it ‘til it’s approved,” said board member Joe Monte, referring to approval of the increased cost.
John Juriga made the motion to approve the $1,500 increase, which was seconded by Mike Boelter.
“I’m a little confused,” said Renaud. “If the DNR wants the property assessed, the DNR should pay for it. He’s not authorized to do the other property.”
“He did the other property without being requested to,” Dawson agreed.
“He should have submitted an addition to the contract at the time,” Gutierrez said.
“We’re not getting any farther in the process if we don’t approve this,” Juriga said.
Dawson said they have a preliminary report that has been discussed in closed session, but they need the final report.
Boelter said the DNR is going to do its own appraisal, too, and Renaud noted that didn’t make sense.
“He didn’t think it would be so … complicated…” Dawson said of Vogt and the Spencer property.
Gutierrez, who is a real estate agent, noted that a residential appraisal costs $350.
Juriga said the Spencer home is not a standard home, but is very sophisticated. Gutierrez asked if he had been in it and Juriga said he was going by what attorney John Day said.
Gutierrez said it was a dated residence.
Library Director Deb Green said the extra work has to do with all the rules and regulations for the trust fund, which owns the DNR property.
Renaud asked whether the board approached the DNR to ask it to pay for the residential appraisal and Dawson said it wasn’t an issue at the time.
Dawson said they asked the DNR what kind of paperwork they needed to move forward. She said no one thought it would come to this.
Renaud talked board members into amending the motion to include asking the DNR to reimburse it for the $1,500, because if they wanted it, it was up to them to pay.
The amended motion was passed unanimously with a roll-call vote. Absent from Monday’s meeting were Chris Brasil and Joy Cichewicz.
Renaud said he didn’t understand why the board couldn’t hold the decision until next week’s meeting with a public forum and public input, not the same night as a city council meeting.
Dawson said the library board is on its own schedule, not Belleville’s or Sumpter’s.
Besides the library board members, present were Director Green, Deputy Director Mary Jo Suchy, two reporters and one member of the public: Renaud.