I’ll be honest, tonight went completely different than I thought it would.
At the beginning of the meeting tonight, I assumed we’d walk out having rejected the Mayor of Yelm’s proposal to split the cost of purchasing the current Yelm library in a condo agreement. Instead, the Timberland Library board passed a resolution to explore contributing at most $37,000 a year to maintenance of the current library after it is purchased by the city. This is a very lose description of the actual resolution, but that’s the gist.
What happened most importantly was that the proposal from the city changed between when it was sent to us last week to tonight when we actually heard from the mayor:
- Most significantly, the price of the condo purchase decreased by $200,000 because of a personal contribution by Margaret Clapp, who owns the current leased site.
- Also, because Timberland can only bond for a period of six years, the city of Yelm would (once the city council approves) bond the entire $1 million purchase over 20 years.
The idea behind Timberland contributing towards O&M is that it would defray for the city the cost of paying back the bond.
The concern for me throughout the discussion on the resolution was how we can give the same sort of deal to every city that owns a building within Timberland. Currently, cities not only provide the buildings, but cover operations and maintenance. In our last budget, we’ve started increasing what we pay for O&M in city owned libraries, but that is a far cry from covering as much as we would in Yelm. Page 18 on the document linked to above provides some details on our recent efforts to cover more O&M.
So, in general, I would like to see Yelm be the first of a new relationship with cities in regards to how we share operations and maintenance. Its in Timberland’s interest to maintain libraries in peak shape, and it begins to address the imbalance that city’s face in how we fund library buildings. I’d much rather see us pick up a large share of O&M across the district than see city’s neglect library buildings due to budget concerns. But, given that we’re dealing with Yelm now, we need to create a universal policy for the entire district.
There were many concerns voiced by other trustees during the discussion, but I try not to speak for them, so I’ll just describe them generally. They had to do with the exact details of the condo agreement and if there were any hidden costs or concerns (future neighbor tenants for example).
I’d also like to thank again all of the people who made the drive from Yelm tonight, it was great to see so many people in one room say how much they loved their library. I also liked seeing someone there taping the public comments, I can’t wait until the videos are posted.