By Rosemary K. Otzman
At a special, 41-minute meeting Jan. 28, the Belleville Area District Library Board unanimously selected the Thrun Law Firm to handle its bond and election services.
Board members said they felt Thrun would be less costly than Varnum, the other firm being considered.
Thrun said for the $15-20 million bond proposal, its fee would be $26,250 for a $15 million bond issue and $31,750 for a $20 million bond issue. The fee would come out of the bond funds.
If the separate bond and operational millage proposals fail, there would be a bond counsel fee of $1,600.
Varnum quoted a fee of $20,000-$25,000 for a $15-$20 million bond, but there are extra fees, including if the financing is “not consummated” a billing of $350/$260 per hour for attorneys’ time spent.
The board’s building committee had met Jan. 24 to consider law firms and make a recommendation to the board, but said it didn’t have enough information and rather than make a decision, sent the names of the two law firms to the full board so the board could decide.
Board chairman Mary Jane Dawson then gathered detailed information on the Thrun and Varnum firms and presented them to the board at its Jan. 28 meeting.
Joy Cichewicz, chairman of the building committee, wasn’t at the Jan. 28 meeting, but the board was informed she favored the Thrun firm.
The law firm had been suggested by board attorney John Day who said Thrun is working with the Novi schools where Day is a parent volunteer on an oversight committee.
When asked for his opinion, Day said bond counsel is a specialized form of law and most of all the bond counsels in the state will do the work and whichever one they pick, they’ll get good quality.
“My guess is Thrun is a little cheaper,” Day said, adding he is not sure how it will all shake out and the two could end up close in cost at the end.
He said the bond might pass and the millage for operating costs might not and you could end up having money to build, but not to operate.
In the few days between the Friday and Tuesday meetings, Thrun was able to present a formal proposal that spelled out the flat rate costs, but Varnum’s reply was general and depended on obtaining more information.
Library board member Mike Boelter said he felt that, “Varnum has a lot of cookie jars.”
He said he always likes to know how much things are going to cost, without any surprises.
Chris Iamarino of Thrun’s East Lansing office is the attorney that furnished the information. He said his firm has had experience with bonds for district libraries in Flint, Caro, and Buchanan.
Thrun will be working with the library board’s financial adviser Stauder Barch Associates on the bond issue/millage.
John Juriga made a motion to go into closed-door session “to consider the purchase and/or lease of real property by the Belleville Area District Library Board.” Boelter seconded.
“I thought there would be no more closed sessions,” said Gutierrez and board members asked where she heard that. She said attorney Day said that, and others.
Gutierrez voted no to the motion, with all others present voting yes in a roll-call vote. Members Cichewicz and Joe Monte were absent and excused.
The Independent pointed out the site for the proposed library building has already been selected and asked what it is they are buying or leasing? When she got no reply, she asked if they would be working on the agreement with Sumpter Township for the satellite library and Dawson nodded her head yes. Meanwhile, Day said that he couldn’t answer that question.
By Rosemary K. Otzman