Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (May 6, 2013): Reversing a slight tax increase that had been proposed in the draft budget, the AADL board approved a $12.3 million budget for fiscal 2013-14 with an unchanged tax rate of 1.55 mills. The library’s fiscal year begins July 1.
One of two video cameras used to record the May 6, 2013 AADL board meeting. (Photos by the writer.)
Nancy Kaplan, chair of the board’s budget & finance committee, said the committee met after the April 15, 2013 board meeting and discussed concerns that had been raised about the proposal to levy a slightly higher millage rate of 1.575 mills. She noted that administration had proposed cuts to allow the rate to remain unchanged.
The main reduction in expenses came from the materials line item, with nearly $100,000 saved by switching from RFID to bar code technology for handling circulation. AADL director Josie Parker stressed that the library is able to secure those savings without impacting the purchase of materials for its collection.
In addition to the budget, the board also approved a one-year extension on the space-use agreement with the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, which operates a used bookstore in the lower level of AADL’s downtown branch at 343 S. Fifth Ave. Proceeds of the store are given to the library.
The board was briefed on a proposal that they’ll be voting on next month to upgrade the fiber-optic infrastructure for the Pittsfield branch. Eli Neiburger, AADL’s associate director of IT and production, described that location at 2359 Oak Valley Drive as a “bandwidth backwater,” with about 2% of the Internet connectivity speed compared to other AADL locations. The recommendation is to hire the nonprofit Merit Network to build and maintain a connection from the branch to Merit’s existing high-speed network. The contract includes a one-time cost of $112,150 and ongoing annual costs of $2,625.
The May 6 session also included two statements from board president Prue Rosenthal, which she read aloud during the meeting. One was a letter from the board to Parker, following her annual evaluation. The board praised Parker’s work over the past year, including the recognition and leadership of Parker and her staff at the state, national and international levels. At Parker’s request, her salary was unchanged for the fourth consecutive year.
Rosenthal’s second statement, read early in the meeting, was in response to issues raised at previous meetings during public commentary about the board’s compliance with Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. The board is scrupulous about adhering to the letter and spirit of the law, Rosenthal stated.
At the end of the meeting, resident David Diephuis responded to Rosenthal’s statement, urging the board to videotape its meetings and to allow the public to attend the board’s committee meetings. He noted that the board does meet the requirements of the OMA. “My question to you is what is allowed under the act,” he said. “I believe this community wants more than what’s required.”
The suggestion to videotape the monthly board meetings had been proposed two years ago by trustee Nancy Kaplan but had been supported by only one other board member, Barbara Murphy.
A videotaping of the meeting did occur for the first time on May 6, however. Skyline High junior David Kloiber set up two stationary cameras to record the proceedings. He had been hired by the Protect Our Libraries political action committee, which posted the video on YouTube. [Full Story]