Due to the lack of public information coming from Yelm’s City Hall, and downright misinformation promulgated elsewhere from various sources, I scheduled an interview with Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Director Michael Crose to ask him about the facts of the Yelm Timberland Library.
This was a very open, cordial and frank conversation on Thursday morning, September 2nd.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me & Yelm Community Blog readers in answering questions to set the record straight on how TRL views the Yelm Library building issue.
Friends of the Library spokesperson Cindy Teixeira said in her August 20th letter to the editor of our local newspaper and I quote:
“Timberlands situation with the Yelm library in a rented space is not such a big deal…
In other words, Yelm is not the only exception to their rules: there are so many exceptions the rules are irrelevant. It is time for Timberlands board of directors to scrap a 50-year-old policy that does not apply to todays economic circumstances.”
Try telling that to the 19 other Timberland Regional Libraries all located in incorporated cities who have followed the rules. TRL is not in the building business, yet has a 40 year track-record working with a financial structure built around a limited amount of resources.
Ed. Note: Mr. Crose told the Yelm Community Blog last month,
“All TRL libraries in incorporated cities and towns are in public buildings except Montesano (which was donated & that city now owns) & Yelm’s current facility in leased space. Timberland DOES own or lease several buildings in un-incorporated areas of the five-counties we serve (totaling 7 of the 27 libraries) & all but one are very small libraries.”
Has Mrs. Teixeira from “Friends of the Library” contacted you to discuss her stated issues with TRL?
On July 30, Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves stated in his Op-Ed:
“As it stands, Yelm Timberland Library is refusing to cover any of the costs for leased space in Yelm [after 2011], as it does at the current location at Prairie Park.
That decision by the Timberland board followed some complaints about the Yelm library being located in a privately-owned building rather than a structure owned by the city.”
Complaints had nothing to do with the Board’s decision.
The Board has been very specific that the City of Yelm abide by the terms and conditions of the original lease. Yelm having TRL as a partner in a private building’s ten-year lease instead of a public structure is an exception to an exceptional situation.
The TRL Board has made very clear to Yelm they do not want to perpetrate that exception.
Mr. Crose added,
“I posed this very question [Yelm’s request for TRL to continue paying a share of a lease beyond 2011] to the Board in a public meeting and in a very even manner, being careful not to sway the Board in any direction by the way I presented the question.”
Mr. Graves stands by his “complaints” remark.
Has he or anyone from the Nisqually Valley News contacted you to ask for a report on the Yelm Library or to verify his comments?
Mayor Harding stated to the Yelm Chamber of Commerce in his State of the City talk February 9th,
“The City of Yelm will support a library here, however not to the size & stature to which the community has grown accustomed with this one in Prairie Park.”
He said, “There needs to be a balance of money expended and for the community to get a good value.”
He later clarified that remark saying that the library should be of a size to serve the city’s population, in his view.
What is TRL’s observation about those remarks?
The resources generated from outside Yelm far exceed those from within Yelm.
This is a narrow view by the mayor and those that support that view.
On July 30, Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves stated in his Op-Ed:
“Forget the fact that the library had an incredible sweetheart deal, one that most can only envy.”
Would you address Mr. Graves assertion about the library’s “sweetheart deal”.
This was no “sweetheart deal” for TRL, I can assure you.
The Library District paid for tenant improvements to Yelm’s Fay Fuller Building totaling $1,056,803.60 to turn the 2nd floor of this building into a library. That’s over one million dollars just to get the doors opened.
While we have not completed 2010 yet, the Library District has expended $983,472.43 in rental lease payments from 2002-2010, which includes partial payments for the calendar year 2010.
The lease for this year is budgeted at $175,000. That’s pushing over one million dollars in lease payments alone for the 9 years 2002-2010, inclusive.
That’s over two million dollars TRL spent for Yelm’s library facility in almost 9 years.
The city’s share of the rent for the period = $281,715.38.
And all of this is for 8,600 square feet of space and for a library housed on a less-than-desirable second floor locale.
No, TRL does not consider this a “sweetheart deal”.
[Ed. Note: Yelm could have had a very nice public building if these lease funds were put as a rent-to-own down-payment on a building they occupied during the same period, as an example.]
Would you address the following rumors circulating about each of the following library locations after 2011?
1. The former Yelm Police Station has been mentioned as a public building option.
If this option is chosen by the city, TRL will perform an evaluation to verify if this structure is capable of being a library. The mayor promised significant renovation to this building, if selected.
2. Remaining in Margaret Clapp’s Fay Fuller Building @ Prairie Park with her providing a “sweetheart deal” rental lease, because if the library leaves, her building would be 80% unoccupied. She has incentive for the library to remain.
With such a supposed “sweetheart deal” for the library there, a first floor location is preferred.
The Board has already stated TRL would not be participating in a lease, though would provide the books, staff and other library functions.
However, Yelm is the one that is getting a “sweetheart deal”.
Yelm property taxpayers contributed $251,331 in property taxes for the lease period to date.
With $730,157.22 in expenses to run the Yelm library, the “sweetheart deal” equates to almost $500,000 more in services Yelm’s taxpayers get, than what they paid in.
Then the question might be, “Should Yelm residents be allowed to use the resources of TRL’s 27 libraries?”
One must take a district-wide perspective regarding taxes generated for the library (regardless of Mr. Harding’s view to keep the library of a size to only serve Yelm residents).
Let’s look at this issue another way:
$6,825,036 was collected in property taxes from all incorporated cities [within a city’s limits] for TRL libraries.
$11.5 million was collected from unincorporated areas [outside a city’s limits].
Total expenditures were $18,318,735
So, one can clearly see that property tax participation from unincorporated areas in the TRL region far exceeded those in the cities.
I have heard from several in the unincorporated library district pose the question that if Yelm chooses to continue a lease payment, then TRL should lower the tax payments of those property owners in the district’s unincorporated area, since Yelm would not receive any rent money from TRL.
Any comment on that?
That is an interesting point.
Yelm has stated they may continue to lease space on an interim basis while they locate or arrange purchase of a suitable public building.
Have you heard from the City of Yelm on their intentions?
“No. I have sent a request to Mayor Harding asking to be kept in the loop.”
Anything else you would like to share with Yelm Community Blog readers?
“We will continue to provide the best possible facility wherever the city provides the building.”
Thank you, Michael.
Regardless of the spin and non-reporting of the information, there are many people out here in the Yelm Library District that appreciate the facts.
Ed Note: Megan Hansen of the Nisqually Valley News is reporting today that Yelm Library Manager Mike Wessells has been transferred to Lacey and Yelm City Council member and longtime TRL employee Mike McGowan is the interim manager while applications are being accepted for the open position.
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While a former Yelm Library Board member & Chair, I have no particular clout over anyone else.
I simply called & asked for an interview to set the record straight. Mr. Crose was delighted at the opportunity, since he has received no calls from the Nisqually Valley News or Friends of the Library to verify their published inaccuracies & criticisms.
I am sure Mr. Crose would be willing to speak with anyone who asked & wanted the facts.
P. S. Yelm WILL have a library. Mayor Harding will pull off something.
Will be interesting what he does finally present to the community and at what expense.
YCT, in answer to your question-
Because the city was focused on obtaining a grant to build Longmire Park’s flushing toilets.
THAT has been their singular focus for over three years, while the Library issue went to the back-burner.
The city must have thought TRL would roll over & acquiesce when Mayor Harding asked to extend the library lease beyond the 10-year contract.
That was a major miscalculation on Mayor Harding’s part.
Now, he and the city are left “holding-the-bag” as it were and the library issue is coming into the public eye & left in the city’s lap. The public clearly think the city is not doing enough. Certainly, the city has not communicated with the public on their intentions.
The NVN poll this week demonstrates that as fact, in addition to the incorrect information being spewed from the NVN Op-Ed & Friends of the Library spokesperson Cindy Teixeira!
Second-District Rep. Jim McCune wrote in his public newsletter:
“The capital budget (mechanism for the Longmire Park restrooms’ grant) provides funding for the construction and repair of public buildings and other long-term investments, such as land acquisitions and transfers. It is separate from the operating budget.”
When the city went to our state legislators for a grant, the capital budget does not specify for what purpose the city will request & use that money at the outset.
The City of Yelm makes the specified request and once the city states the money is desired to be used for park toilets.
The city could have initially requested a grant for a library building, yet instead, put their energies & priorities for a park toilets grant, full-well knowing the library lease was ending in 2011.
Yelm told our district’s state legislators, “We want money for ballpark toilets” and so that’s what locked in the purpose of the grant. Yelm got flush toilets.
Now, the state budget is strapped and money is scarce.
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