Sugar Grove Library treasurer: Difficult choices ahead
The Sugar Grove Library.
Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer
The Sugar Grove Library board this week got its first look at how its spending is going this year — and dire warnings from treasurer Daniel Herkes.
"We are going to have to make some difficult choices," Herkes said, as he presented a draft of the 2011-12 working budget.
His info was one reason the board voted 5-2 to table discussion of hiring a search firm to look for a new library director to replace the one it fired in July. The other reason was the lowest proposal was $7,000; another firm initially wanted $8,000 plus 24 percent of whatever the board pays the next director.
Trustee Anthony Oliver tried to get the board to reconsider hiring Beverly Holmes Hughes, who was paid tens of thousands less than what the American Library Association estimates is the going rate for a director of a small library such as Sugar Grove's. He suggested meeting with Hughes to iron out their differences and come up with a detailed performance plan for her.
"How are we going to keep the library open?" Oliver asked. "I don't see how we can unless we do (rehire Hughes)."
The board discussed the idea in both open and closed session. No motion was made.
The draft working budget estimates operating expenditures of $644,832 for the fiscal year that began July 1, and that the library had spent 32 percent of that amount through the first quarter.
But it has gone through 42 percent of its budget for salaried workers. That includes the pay of former library director Hughes, the lone full-time worker, who was paid $16,000 for unused vacation and sick time.
The board has spent $7,915 on consultants. Most of the money went to pay a state-certified person to answer requests for information in accordance with the state's Freedom of Information Act, board President Joan Roth said. After firing Hughes, the library was without a state-certified FOIA officer for more than a month, and protesters have filed many requests.
The board is paying the interim director $72 an hour for up to 20 hours a week. It is not clear if her pay comes out of the hourly workers account or the salaried workers account.
The library will receive about $523,000 in property taxes this calendar year. and another miscellaneous $50,000, for operations. That does not include the taxes spent to repay the loan for building the current building, which opened in 2009.
Trustee Art Morrical said the draft working budget, which Herkes aims to present monthly, was what he had been asking of Hughes, but didn't get. "That's what got us in the situation in the first place," he said.
Herkes asked the board how it wanted to trim expenses or from where it could take money. The library does have money from the sale of its old building, which it holds in reserve to pay for unexpected repairs to the new building. The fund had $133,718 as of June 30, 2010, according to its most recently available Certified Annual Financial Report filed with the state comptroller.
"I'm just the paying-the-bills guy," Herkes said. " ... Do we get to April and shut it down and say (to patrons) 'See you in the summer?' "
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