AN IN-DEPTH REPORT –
CITY OF YELM’S $1 MILLION PURCHASE OF THE PRAIRIE PARK LIBRARY
Mayor Harding presented a proposal to the Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Board of Directors on April 27th for the City of Yelm to purchase the current facility at Prairie Park for $1 million dollars.
Did Mayor Harding violate City of Yelm protocols by making a unilateral proposal without consulting his own City Council?
You decide after viewing these official documents:
1. During the presentation to TRL, Harding stated he did NOT consult his own city council prior to announcing the $1m city-purchase offer.
Click here for Timberland Regional Library Board of Directors Draft Minutes from April 27, 2011, where Harding stated to the TRL Board, “this proposal has not been discussed with the Yelm City Council but he believes they would be in favor of this agreement.”
2. The City of Yelm’s website says of the Mayor’s responsibilities:
“The Mayor is the chief executive and administrative officer of the City. He enforces the laws, directs the daily operations of City government, prepares the budget, and implements the policies and programs initiated by the City Council.
“He presides over all meetings of the City Council, when present, but shall have a vote only in the case of a tie in the votes of the Council with respect to matters other than the passage of any ordinance, grant, or revocation of franchise or license, or any resolution for the payment of money.”
Click here for the Mayor’s functions as stated on the City of Yelm website.
3. The City of Yelm’s website says the City Council’s responsibilities are:
“As described in the Yelm Municipal Code and Revised Code of Washington, certain responsibilities are vested in the City Council and the Mayor. Basically, this form of government prescribes that a City Councils role is that of a legislative policy-making body that determines not only the local laws that regulate
community life, but also determines what public policy is and gives direction to the Mayor to administer the affairs of the City government in a businesslike and prudent manner.
“The Council acts as a body. No member has any extraordinary powers beyond those of other members. Members of the city Council are collectively responsible for establishing policy, adopting an annual budget, and providing vision and goals to the Mayor and Departments. Policy is established by at least a majority vote of the Council.”
Click here for the City Council’s functions as stated on the City of Yelm website.
4. Timberland Regional Library Director Michael Crose sent a letter dated May 31, 2011 to Mayor Harding outlining TRL’s understanding of Harding’s proposal for the City of Yelm to pay $1 million for the Prairie Park facility and requesting action by the Yelm City Council to proceed with concluding an agreement to move forward.
Click here for TRL Dir. Crose’s letter to Mr. Harding.
5. Yelm City Administrator Shelly Badger issued a Staff Report dated June 3, 2001 for the June 14 City Council meeting titled: “Expression of intent to purchase Timberland Regional library facility at Prairie Park” recommending “that Council adopt a motion of intent” so an agreement can be finalized with TRL.
Click here for the Staff report for the June 14th Council Meeting.
Now. before the Yelm City Council approves an intent to move forward, several questions need to be addressed by the Council, based on the aforementioned public documents:
A. Did Mayor Harding violate Yelm protocols by presenting a purchase proposal without consulting the Council?
– The City’s website states he cannot have a vote on “any resolution for the payment of money”, except in breaking a tie on the Council.
B. Was the Yelm Municipal Code and Revised Code of Washington usurped when the Mayor bypassed Council regulations that “gives direction to the Mayor to administer the affairs of the City government in a businesslike and prudent manner and prudent manner”?
“The Council acts as a body. No member has any extraordinary powers beyond those of other members.”
That includes the Mayor!
Yet, Mayor Harding is on the record numerous times in 2011 stating the City of Yelm could only afford to pay $600,000 to buy the library. And he acknowledged he did not ask Council (nor the public) for approval to buy the facility for $1 million.
Is bypassing the Council to offer a $1 million proposal administering “the affairs of the City government in a businesslike and prudent manner?”
C. Does the City of Yelm have the bonding capability to undertake a $1 million bond for 20 years?
That has not been discussed publicly.
I was educated in and employed in the business world, becoming an Executive of a Fortune Top 50 (of 500) company in the mid-80’s. I know of no corporate Board of Directors (i.e. Yelm City Council) that would allow a Board Chair (mayor) to unilaterally make a major funding decision such as this without consulting the Board, and especially a course of action that could exhaust the city’s entire bonding (borrowing) capabilities. Harding committed taxpayers’ money without consultation and while the Yelm City Council may “rubber-stamp” the mayor’s proposal, is this adhering to the Yelm Municipal Code and Revised Code of Washington which requires administering “the affairs of the City government in a businesslike and prudent manner”?
With a purchase proposal not presented publicly by Mayor Harding to the Yelm City Council nor the citizens, how can the Yelm City Council vote Tuesday on an “Expression of intent to purchase” the library at Prairie Park without answering any of these questions?
I am all for a library here, however I am all for the public to know the truth about the purchase proposal. The public has a right to know the truth about the debt that will be placed on their backs for at least 20 years!
THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT AND SERIOUS QUESTIONS THAT THE PUBLIC DESERVES TO HAVE ANSWERED!
No further discussion on the Library motion at City Council tonight, as expected.
Mike McGowan, TRL Library employee abstained, as appropriate.