It’s not often a
3-3 vote happens for the Westchester Public Library Board of Trustees, but
it did happen Thursday.
themselves in a stalemate over whether to accept an anonymous donor’s gift
of a vacant 1.4-acre parcel at the southwest corner of the Ind. 49 and U.S.
“I think this is a
first time we had a split vote,” board member Michael Livovich said.
The property owner
approached WPL board member Drew Rhed towards the end of last year about the
possibility of letting the Library have the land after trying to sell it
unsuccessfully. Board attorney Terry Hiestand pointed out in December that
there was no roadway to access the property and it would likely need
permission from INDOT and the neighbors to have an access point.
Even after several
meetings in closed executive session since then to discuss the possible
acquisition of property, there was no clear concept of what WPL would be
able to use the land for.
Board member Nick
Tilden said WPL could accept the donation with the intention of selling it
in the future to someone else. There would only be a very minimum cost on
insurance for the library to hold on to it, he said.
that some board members felt putting money or investments into the land may
not be “the right idea yet.”
Livovich made the
motion to decline the donation and thank the donor for their offer. Voting
with Livovich in support of the motion were members Abbe Trent and Board
President Kathryn Cochran. Against the declination were Tilden, Michelle
Corrazzo and Rondi Wightman. Rhed abstained from voting as the donor came to
No motion was made
to accept the donation. Since no motion passed, Hiestand said he would
inform the donor by letter that the board was undecided.
Rhed after meeting
said he believes the board failed to have a consensus since there was no
foreseeable purpose for the parcel at this time.
Cochran said the
board did discuss at length all the options. “(The board’s decision) was
based on a very strong evaluation of the conditions,” she said.
In other business,
WPL Director Leea Yelich presented a proposed draft of the Library’s 2017
budget with more funding being given to salaries.
Yelich however kept
the overall budget amount at the same level as this year’s, at $3.1 million.
She said she has not heard what the state’s assessed value growth quotient
will be for 2017 so it is likely the budget draft will go through changes.
the salaries line item by about $100,000 with salary increases for full time
staff ranging from about $5,000 to $12,800.
The board earlier
this year looked at a salary study with the consideration of adjusting
salaries to retain qualified employees.
insurance costs were significantly lower this year than in 2015 and decided
to budget $250,000 for 2017 instead of 2016’s $370,000.
within the overall budget included a $25,000 reduction for equipment and a
$75,000 lesser figure for funds to transfer into the Library Improvement
Capital outlays and
library materials remain the same in Yelich’s draft.
Yelich said she
calculated the increased salaries using the Library Book and Trade Almanac
and also considered the amount of time employees have worked. Those who
worked the longest are proposed to receive the largest raises.
The board will vote
at its August meeting on the Library’s 2017 advertised budget for a public
hearing. Adoption is scheduled to follow on October 27.
Also, the board
will consider a resolution in the near future about offering employees new
retirement plan options through the Indiana Public Retirement System.
are offered a Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) hybrid plan which pays
3 percent into an annuity savings account. The state has rolled out a new
ASA-only plan that employees can pay into.
John Vetroczky from
the IPRS office provided the board with information regarding how each plan
No help from TIF
Also on Thursday,
Hiestand said the Town of Chesterton sent a certified letter to the Library
informing that it would not be receiving any additional funding from the
Town’s tax increment finance district this year, nor any other government
taxing unit within the TIF area, since the Town will be using the entirety
of the revenues.
before has been critical of the establishment of TIFs, said that the TIF
districts seem to benefit only the entity that establishes it and is
detrimental to other taxing units such as the County and the school
-- Non-profits and
volunteers are invited to June 16’s Nonprofit Network Night Volunteer Fair
at The Spa in Porter from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. designed to connect community
members with local nonprofit groups. The event is hosted by WPL Yelich said
15 nonprofits have signed up so far.
-- Starting today,
Hageman Library in Porter will have extended hours, open from 9 a.m. to 7
p.m. instead of 5 p.m.
-- Library patrons
are no longer allowed to bring their own paper for printing in the serials
-- Ellis Electric
is helping the Library set up security cameras in the Westchester Twp.
History Museum’s exhibit area and a router for WiFi. They will also be
installing new lights on Thomas Library’s stairwell.