Two library board of directors positions were approved by Morenci city council members Sept. 9 and two appointments remain undecided. Council and audience members continued a discussion from a previous meeting about appointing a council member as a voting member of the board.
Mayor Keith Pennington recently learned that state law allows him to appoint and remove board members where in the past the library’s board suggested potential new members and renewals for existing members.
Pennington was asked at the meeting why he chooses to add a council member to the board and how it would benefit the library.
“Th is council appropriates to the library board tens of thousands of dollars every year,” he said, “and I as mayor feel like it is entirely appropriate that there is representation of taxpayers on the board. Th ere is justification that the council be represented on the board.”
In answer to a question from an audience member about how a council member would choose between the interest of the library and the interest of the council, Pennington said he expects the council member to speak to the interest of citizens.
Pennington also said that his choice to have a voting council member on the board plays no part in his philosophy about library programming. That was in response to a statement library director Colleen Leddy made earlier in the meeting. She said that Pennington told her following a library board meeting that he thinks the library’s programming is too progressive.
Pennington asked council’s support of his recommendation to appoint councilor Brenda Spiess to a three-year term on the board. Jeff Bell made the motion, but no second was made.
“We’ll pass that over for now,” Pennington said.
Council then approved extending the terms of board members Sandy Emmons and Lois Speed for an additional three years.
Pennington next suggested appointing current board member Kathy Schiermyer to the remainder of the late Mike Gillen’s term for one year through Sept. 4, 2014, but no motion was forthcoming.
“We’ll pass on that one,” Pennington said.
At the end of the meeting, council member Tracy Schell explained her position on the library board appointments.
“I am not at all opposed to a council member being on the library board,” she said. “I am opposed to appointing a council member to the board for longer than they are going to be on council.”
It’s possible that Spiess will seek another term on council in two years, she said, but she didn’t think a three-year term was correct.
Council member Ron Apger agreed, stating that three years was too long and the one-year term would be better. He, also, is not opposed to having a council member on the board.
Bell said he is also in favor of a voting council member to give checks and balances to the board. If Spiess isn’t reelected to council, he said, the mayor could consider extending her term at that time. Bell said he supports the library board and is pleased that all three existing members with terms expiring were recommended for another term.
Schell added that adding a council member to the board is not a trial to see how it goes.
“This is how it will be,” she said, “we’re not trying something out.”
Library director Colleen Leddy pointed out that there already is a council member sitting on the library board as a representative from council.
“It’s not that there are things happening at the library board meetings that council doesn’t know about,” she said.