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J. Joel Edwards Public Library Board of Trustees Meeting - April 11, 2019

[Note from the Editor Added 5.7.19: I placed another open records request both with the library and the county in regard to the Library Board and their correspondence. Much has happened since my last request that ended in late April, and I am frustrated to still be shining a light on this board after six months because, with the exception of the Pike County Commission, I have NEVER had to sit in on meetings for six months to ensure that particular members of a board--and specifically those in leadership--were following county and state laws as well as their own bylaws/ordinances because following the rules matters. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the update. I have also added a correction in bold blue on the page because I noticed a typo today that needed to be corrected.]


II. DETERMINE QUORUM Chairman Audrey Lanier, Anthony Vinson, Joy Walker, Library Manager Rosemary Bunn, Flint River Regional Library System Representative (FRRLS) Natalie Marshall, Vice Chair Gillian Appleton, Secretary Rhonda Morgan, and Patty Talley. Treasurer Curtis Ward and Tina Venus are not present. There is a quorum.


Bobby Bickley asked to move the financial report up on the agenda.


Treasurer Curtis Ward is not present, but he had sent all information to Library Manager Rosemary Bunn and to all members of the board. Questions on the Profit and Loss Report? They talked through a couple of expenditures that were unexpected and put the library a little over budget.

Chair Audrey Lanier said that she is concerned whether the library account needs any additional information since the EIN was cancelled and the county is doing the payroll instead of the library. Secretary Rhonda Morgan is going to find this out because the library is a governmental non-profit. Consensus that the Board is in agreement for Rhonda to call. Natalie is going to ask Edmund (from the FRRLS who looks over and approves every expenditure from our local library) about this to find out how other libraries handle this.

[Note from the Editor: This is a business bank account and EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. Discussion by email to the entire board where County Manager Bickley has determined that the library needs to have an EIN number. It was to be cancelled because the library employees are county employees and the library is now a county department. On a side note, if anyone wants to donate to the library, I would heartily recommend giving through Friends of the J. Joel Edwards Library. This is a non-profit organization that sets up a fundraiser dance every year and sells books at the Concord Jubilee, etc. Friends of the J. Joel Edwards Library contributes funds directly to the library for specific needs.]

Budget Discussion. CM Bickley and Rosemary met about the budget for this year. She didn’t ask for any increases this year. There is concern that the library has received increases since 2012. She received the budget proposal prior to the meeting. She asked for the same budget for payroll and those numbers are the same. [Note from the Editor: Rosemary and Vice Chair Gillian Appleton met with County Manager Bobby Bickley to discuss the budget. There was an email dated April 16 addressed to Rosemary and cc'ed to the rest of the board and the county manager from Chair Audrey Lanier that asked if there had been a change in the budget process since she was part of the discussion last year but not this year. Rosemary advised that since Treasurer Curtis Ward was out of town, she asked Gillian to attend the meeting with her since Gillian is an officer and has been on the board longer than most and is familiar with the library's financial history and needs.]

Further discussion about last year's budget. She said that the library board ok’ed $111,000 for the budget and employees, and the county ok’ed $107,000 for a $4,000 difference that the library board was not made aware of this at the time. The library board got a number from the county and the board budgeted for that number according to their budget. But... the distribution was different. The county withheld personnel money when they took over the payroll, but they only withheld according to their number so there was an excess of money left over that was given in bulk for the library to spend like an authority. However, things are being done differently now because the county will be paying for the employee portion of the budget in full. The operating expenses for the upcoming year request was for $37,300 with the county approving only $23,245 plus the $12,000 for the Flint River Library System. This is a decrease of $14,000.

Natalie said that the state requires at least the same amount of last year because a reduction in the annual operating budget because it could jeopardize our membership in the library system. We need to look at the final numbers from last year because there were changes in payroll last year. Audrey asked if the reserve accounts could be considered as part of this and was told no.

Bobby said that his concern is that there is $70,000 sitting in an account that the county feels like was overbudgeted. He said this is the board’s money to do what they want to with this. Rob said that the county will consider if this becomes apparent that there is a reduction in budget and the county needs to consider this at a later time. If the library was a department, there would be excess funds and all excess goes back to the county, but this is a unique situation and the county is trying to be fiscally responsible too. Rosemary said that she thinks that this is where the library was understaffed and not overbudgeted. Natalie advised that Henry County (click on the article below) just dealt with moving money to deal with a similar situation. Rob said that this is still a proposed budget and is not final. It was stated that the county is not intending to hurt the library in operating expenses. Natalie will let the county and the library board if there is a problem.

Click here to read “The Henry County Board of Commissioners agreed to transfer $115,000 from the county fund balance to its library system.”

[Note from the Editor: This is important because the state library system requires each county to pay for the operating expenses of their own library. If the county requires the library to use funds from their own bank account, this will negatively impact the library. On December 20, 2018 the State Librarian and Associate Vice Chancellor for Libraries sent a letter to Flint River Regional Library System (FRRLS) Director Natalie Marshall in reference to another library in the FRRLS that had its budget cut by its board of commissioners. It advised that there is a maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement for state aid for public libraries. The Board of Regents Requirements for Public Library State Grant Funds section 4.4 reads, "Local support for the current year shall be equal to or more than the preceding year." According to the letter, local support is defined as "funding provided to library system boards of trustees by local governmental agencies with taxing authority" and that this includes counties. She advised that state funds are granted in order to "enhance services and programs contingent upon sustained local funding." She specifically states that the MOE covers annual operating funding. This means that if the library board is forced to pay its own operating budget because the county has reduced the amount of money that the library receives in the budget, the library can lose its state benefits including grants, state aid to the library that is received each year, data lines and internet service, daily courier service, participation in PINES and GALILEO, eligibility for STEM grants, partnership programs with Georgia State Parks, the Atlanta Zoo, etc, and other state sponsored activities such as the computer replacement and major repairs/renovations program. This would also mean that the library would not be eligible for federal grants or LSTA competitive grants in technology, family literacy, special needs, resource sharing, etc. and that Vacation Reading Program grants and materials that are made available for free to our library now would have to be paid for with local dollars. So by my calculations, the county will be paying up to $111,000 for employees. If that number holds, the $14,000 cut in the budget goes down by $8,000 to $6,000 that the county will need to pay if/when we get a letter from the state library system advising our board of commissioners of our MOE agreement for the library. There is $50,000 sitting in contingency (Dept 10 of the Pike County budget) for the upcoming year.]

Bobby said that our intent (the county’s) is not to the library’s budget but to get it in line with where it should be. This has been here for some time. If there is money in a bank account that can be spent to help with expenses, the commissioners will look at that and wonder why it isn’t being used too. [Note from the Editor: Library Manager Rosemary Bunn has been trying to present a plan for expenditures for several months and actually had a proposal for this Fund Balance Expenditure that she had emailed to all board members prior to this meeting that was supposed to be voted on tonight... again... but it was put off again.]

Additional discussion: County Attorney Rob Morton said that Impact Fees have to be added to the budget by the Board of Commissioners. There is $80,000 in Impact Fees that are still available at this time. There were amendments that may have adjusted for this budget that may have made the final payroll numbers end up closer to $111,000. Impact Fees are items that are longer than 10 year lifespan and improving infrastructure. There was an approval for an acquisition of books in 2017. Joy Walker was concerned because individual books are not considered eligible. However, Natalie from the FRRLS said that is a collection is considered, that would meet the definition rather than as individual books. [Note from the Editor: This goes back to a question about a past Impact Fee expenditure and whether it met the criteria for Impact Fees. Board members were advised that the expenditure was acceptable.]


Motion to approve the March meeting minutes. Approved.


The state budget is still sitting on the governor’s desk. The state has responded positively to the state library requests. Discussion on different types of grants. LED lighting upgrades could be a possibility for our library. Consensus for Natalie to give info to the board on package proposals and this grant in general. This is a 50/50 grant. This is Impact Fee eligible. We are also looking at an addition. Patty suggested getting input from employees if this is considered before we move forward. There is money in the budget for technology increases that will come around the fall along with guidelines on specific library items that will be used by the public. Increase for books in included.

The Milner Community Library will be holding its grand opening. It is the 9th library in the Flint River Regional Library System.


Rosemary Bunn advised that the library has a new employee. Carlee Banks was a former volunteer here.

She also advised that the number have gone from 481 to 1300 with outreach programs because any time we do an offsite program, the library can count the students and teachers who attend the program.

50 bags were donated through Friends of the Library in anticipation of buying materials to go in them for circulation within our library.

[Note from the Editor: These bags were included in the presentation from last month's meeting in the proposal that Rosemary put together to spend about $50,000 of the fund balance. Rosemary tried to explain that the sale price on the bags would only be good through tomorrow but no one made a motion to pay for the bags so Friends of the Library paid for the bags after the meeting. These bags created a storm of controversy with emails repeatedly asking for the name of the donor and a suggestion was even made that there should be a policy on accepting donations for the library. It should be noted that these bags were not donated through the library but through the Friends of the Library so the Library Board would have absolutely NO say over Friends of the Library.]



Consensus that Patsy Page’s application looks good and go ahead send this to the county. Motion to accept her application an send it to the commissioners for approval. Gillian to get this to County Clerk Jo Ann Wrye for the commissioners.


Audrey brought info for everyone to review on this that gives advice on this process and tells how to lay out strategic goals and how to measure success. They walked around the library to look at the physical space and see what is available, what is needed, etc. Short break to walk around and examine the library so they can make their recommendations for the needs analysis. [Note from the Editor: This was a good discussion, and the entire board worked together in their thoughts and dreams for our library.]



Rhonda sent out the minutes two months ago and made a motion to rescind the approved January meeting minutes. There were some comments and concerns about the January minutes that might be taken by readers as negative comments. Rhonda has done research and found that only action being taken should be written rather than spoken statements according to Robert’s Rules of Order.

Motion to replace the already approved minutes with the revised minutes. 2nd received. Discussion: Gillian was concerned about being able to go back months and months and change things. Anthony said that this is about removing a particular comment and going forward with the new format.

In favor: 4-2 in favor. This motion did not pass with a 2/3 vote so the minutes remain the same.


Audrey advised that County Manager Bobby Bickley asked the library board to continue with this practice as they did before. Audrey asked the board’s thoughts on this and what format they should use. Gillian said that she would like to see what the county uses. Patty said that there are parts of her job that are unique so we may have to have a mix of more. Gillian asked if Rosemary could do a self-assessment too. Anthony prefers goals and objectives and evaluating how well those goals and objectives are met each year. The board will look at this next month and have it done by the June meeting. Audrey will bring this to the next meeting.

[Note from the Editor: An email from April 16 was addressed from Chair Audrey Lanier to CM Bickley advising that the Library Board of Trustees conducts a performance review of the Library Manager and asking if there is a format that the county uses for county employees that he would prefer for them to follow. She also asked for the date that he received the request from Library Manager Rosemary Bunn to close the library for one day employee service training in January 2019. CM Bickley replied the next day that Rosemary asked his permission to close the library for one day of training on December 17, 2018. He then advised that the county manager performs the reviews of the department heads and that department heads perform the review of their employees. He then asked if there is a reason that the library board would need to fill out a performance review form other than just providing input to him for her personnel file. I did not find any further response in the open records items that I requested. CORRECTION ADDED 5.7.19: County Manager Bobby Bickley replied, "...Rosemary requested permission to close the library early for employee training..." and NOT 'one day of training.' Audrey asked about "one day of training," but Bobby did not. Pike County Times regrets the error.]


Patty asked about the 3D printer and if the Griffin library had this. Their printer is broken at the current time. She brought info to the board about STEM learning resources through the library. Discussion about matching up with the schools with needs and also for the homeschool community. Joy said that adults need this too. Audrey is in favor of a needs analysis, but Rosemary said that she has been researching this for years. Consensus that further discussion is needed. Patty and Gillian to be on the agenda for next month.

Rhonda sent out information about putting together a library STEAM area to the board about planning. She said that we need to get out in the community and find out what is needed. She suggested a committee to identify needs in the community or a workshop to decide how to proceed and save time. She said it’s a lot of money and once it’s spent, it’s gone. Gillian said that STEAM has been established as a need around here, but she is not opposed to a needs analysis. Anthony asked Rosemary to put her list into a numbered order and then maybe got top 3 at a time. Anthony said that we need a middle ground so we’re not still talking about this a year from now. Joy asked why we don’t ask Rosemary’s opinion about other libraries similar to ours and find out what is successful at other libraries. Patty said that we could move on the items that are not STEAM related.


Gillian made a motion to pass around the information and it be discussed at a later date. There was a 2nd. Discussion: Patty said that Rosemary has been looking forward to presenting this for several months. Gillian said that if we are going to do a needs analysis and are not ready to order, why are we even discussing this? Anthony said that if we are not going to hear what Rosemary has to say, we need to stop asking her to prepare stuff. Gillian said that she wanted to remove her motion. Audrey called for a vote instead. It was a tie vote (Walker abstained) and Audrey voted to wait on this to the next meeting.

Gillian asked what our next step is then because she doesn’t want to sit here and do nothing. Audrey has asked for more info about STEAM projects from the school, Anthony may go to the Primary School, Rosemary to give info at the next meeting. Audrey said that this is fact-finding. Gillian wants an action plan that isn’t going to take 3 years. Anthony said that we are making progress even though it may not be as fast as we might like. This will be under old business in the next meeting.

Rosemary said that a microfilm reader is needed because we are the only access to the Pike Journal Reporter and that is used on a regular basis. It’s not a STEAM room item. Computer chairs too.

[Note from the Editor: The Chair asked the board to hold a meeting to discuss establishing a Special Committee that would be in charge of doing the needs analysis for the library in regard to the STEAMroom. According to Article VI, Section 5, the Chair may call a meeting of the Executive Board (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary) to discuss business that requires attention between meetings. The Executive Meeting was advertised and held at the Griffin Library on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. There was a split in the board with some who liked the idea of getting this ball rolling and some who didn't. Vice Chair Gillian Appleton advised that she could not attend due to a previous commitment and argued that since there hasn't been a full board motion and agreement to conduct a needs analysis, the board is not ready for a motion or vote to be conducted on a subcommittee. She suggested a special called meeting for the entire board to address this issue instead of just the Executive Board. The Chair held the Executive Board meeting on April 25 with a quorum of 3. I did not attend that meeting. Notes on this meeting are in the section below.]


ADJOURN: 7:21 p.m.


[Note from the Editor: These are my notes based on what has been gathered from Open Records today from April 22 through May 7, 2019.]

On April 22, Secretary Rhonda Morgan emailed FRRLS Representative Natalie Marshall (and cc'ed Chair Audrey Lanier) to ask if the Griffin Library has a policy on accepting donations and ask for a copy to be forwarded to this library board. FRRLS representative advised that there is a FRRLS Gift and Donation Policy that is in place for Rosemary to use if this is needed. She advised that gift and donation policies are "an excellent backup resource for the good sense and reason of a Library Manager." She also advised that it is typically the job of the Library Manager to write thank you's to donors. [Note from the Editor: I believe that this goes back to the donated bags (donated bags clears up a typo here that originally said gift bags) that these two members asked repeatedly who the specific donor was including cc'ing the county manager in the emails.] ADDED 5.8.19: [Note from the Editor: The previous comment was not in blue when it originally went online. It is now noted as a definite opinion even though all of this section is a mix of fact and my opinion based on reading through literally two inches of printed out emails and documents from the library board since December of 2018 (yes, I measured it with a ruler) and attending library board meetings since November of 2018. There are several notes from the editor in this section now. All this writing in blue takes me back to the "old days" with the County Commission when rules were continually broken and there was continuous strife with the board. There shouldn't be ANY strife with a volunteer board whose sole purpose is to support the library and the library manager.]

After the drama about the bags (click here to read about those bags and the proposed items to go in them in the March meeting), there was another resignation. Tina Venus had not been on the board for very long, and laid out her resignation in a way that was thoughtful and thought-provoking. She stated that she was eager to serve the community on this board because she loves her library and wants it to grow and prosper, but the board is dysfunctional and she feels that she will be much more effective at serving by volunteering at the library or joining Friends of the Library. "It seems that there are key members of the board whose primary goals are to question Rosemary's integrity, any financial transaction she conducts in her role as library manager, and ultimately limit her ability to be effective in her job. That is NOT my goal, and I simply refuse to take part in this." Chair Audrey Lanier told her that she was welcome to continue as a board member if she changed her mind and chose to stay on the board.

According to the Executive Committee Meeting Minutes of April 25, 2019, the meeting was called to order at 4:30 p.m. with a quorum of three committee members: Audrey Lanier, Curtis Ward, and Rhonda Morgan. Gillian Appleton had advised that she was unable to attend due to a prior commitment that day. [Note from the Editor: I did not attend this meeting and there is no notice in the draft minutes of anyone else who might have attended in the audience.] The minutes state that a unanimous vote was given to a motion that will be proposed at the May 9th Library Board meeting: "For the J. Joel Edwards Public Library Board of Trustees to establish a Special Committee to conduct a Needs Analysis for STEAMroom equipment purchases for the library." It was noted that the committee is needed "To exercise due diligence before making an expenditure of the fund balance, To show support to the Library Manager for the 'Proposal for Fund Balance Expenditures,' and To accept the offer of a board member to chair the Special Committee." The meeting adjourned at 4:52 p.m.

The original agenda for the May 9th meeting was sent to everyone with an Executive Session on it that had no notification of what it was for. Vice Chair Gillian Appleton read emails and realized that the Executive Session is for discussion of the evaluation with Rosemary. She recommended that the agenda cite the reason for the Executive Session as personnel so the legality of this session would be readily apparent to the public. According to the Closed Meeting Affidavit that must be signed and filed with the minutes of the meeting, "Discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee or component employee or interviewing applicants for the position of the executive head of an agency as provided in OCGA 50-14-3(6)" is allowed.

On May 7 at 6 p.m., a discussion is taking place over whether or not the library board should provide an annual evaluation for the Library Manager based on an email that was sent back and forth from the Chair to the County Manager on April 16 and 17 regarding the annual evaluation as noted above. Chair Audrey Lanier sent an email to the county manager as was noted above but did not provide the information obtained in that email to the rest of the board. At least one member asked to be sent anything else that was only sent to the county manager and not to the rest of the board over the past two months. [Note from the Editor: I have nothing else that is written that was not cc'ed to the entire library board in the past two months. However, this was an issue in January when the board made a consensus for any one member to act without the board knowing what was going on and was discussed again in February.] Audrey sent forms to all library board members along with FRRLS Representative Natalie Marshall, Library Manager Rosemary Bunn, past Secretary and past Chairman Susan Goodwin. [Note from the Editor: Susan resigned after the January meeting and said there has been a mistake and she was not chairman during the performance period listed so she will not be taking part in the evaluation process. Thank you for your integrity on this matter, Susan.]

Rosemary was asked to do a self-evaluation and all members were asked to fill out an evaluation sheet that rated relationship with the Regional Director and Staff, relationship with the library board, relations with the public and patrons, management of finances and personnel, general questions about effective oral and written communication skills, appropriate leadership qualities, good attendance habits and maintenance of her work area at the library as well as a final section about long range planning, goals, and objectives. Audrey advised the board that she would compile all of the results into a summary report that would be shared with Rosemary during the Executive Session at Thursday's Library Board meeting that County Manager Bobby Bickley will be attending. According to Audrey, CM Bickley asked that the Executive Session be moved to the beginning of the meeting since he has another commitment that day. Audrey has requested these evaluations by the close of business on Wednesday, May 8th.

[Note from the Editor: There is more, but I am going to step back for now and see how the meeting goes on Thursday. A note of extreme importance to board members (from Robert's Rules of Order (RRO) that Chairman Briar Johnson passed out when he visited the Board to give some insight on how the commissioners conduct their meetings): "Silence means consent." If you're not happy with something, please make a motion or give a second so an item can be discussed.]

And one more time from the February library board meeting write up... Click here to read Pike County's Ordinances on board service. Page 11 begins Section 33.07 which is entitled "General Board Appointment Policies and Procedures." It lays out specific terms for voluntary service in Pike County. Sections (F) and (G) read as follows:

(F)Responsibilities Upon Appointment. All appointees shall adhere to the provisions of the Pike County Code of Ordinances and the laws of the State of Georgia, including provisions related to public officials as well as ethics. Appointees shall diligently attend the meetings of the board, authority or commission to which they are appointed; and satisfactorily complete any training required for the appointment. All appointees shall represent Pike County with dignity, demonstrate ethical and professional behavior, show respect for others, devote sufficient time and preparation for meetings, maintain appropriate confidentiality of any privileged information, and abide by the Open Meetings and Open Records laws of Georgia.

(G)Removal. All appointments made by the Board of Commissioners to the various boards, authorities and commissions serve at the pleasure of the Pike County Board of Commissioners. Any person appointed by the Board of Commissioners may be removed with or without cause upon the majority vote of the Board of Commissions.

To read about the November 8, 2018 meeting, click here.

To read about the December 13, 2018 meeting, click here.

To read about the January 10, 2019 meeting, click here.

To read about the February 14, 2019 meeting, click here.

To read about the March 1, 2019, 2019 meeting, click here.

Update 5.7.19