“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”
Mayor indicates Library purchase unsettled
In the local newspaper of August 19, Mayor Ron Harding’s statements in his monthly column require answers.
Let’s examine the issues, one by one:
1. Quoting Mayor Harding:
As many of you know, the City of Yelm is actively working with the Timberland Regional Library system and the property owner of the current Yelm library building to purchase that location as the future and permanent home of the Yelm Timberland Library [TRL].
Though we are working cooperatively in the right direction, we have a great deal of work to do before this issue is completely behind us, and I dont want the residents of the city or surrounding area to take that spirit of cooperation as an indicator everything is settled.”
WHILE DETAILS OF NEGOTIATIONS TO PURCHASE THE LIBRARY ARE NOT USUALLY MADE PUBLIC, A STATUS REPORT USUALLY IS PROVIDED TO THE PUBLIC AND PATRONS.
MAYOR HARDING HAS PROVIDED NONE.
HIS STATEMENT ABOVE INDICATES NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE SELLER HAS SOME CHALLENGES AND IS UNSETTLED.
2. Quoting Mayor Harding:
“The city is working to purchase the building, but we still need to support and encourage community efforts to raise money to help with the purchase.
AGAIN, HARDING HAS PROVIDED NO DETAILS OF WHAT THE PUBLIC IS EXPECTED TO CONTRIBUTE TO CONSUMMATE THIS PURCHASE.
ALL FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGNS FOR PUBLIC PROJECTS HAVE GOALS, MARKERS OF ACHIEVEMENT & PERIODIC PROGRESS REPORTS.
NOT SO WITH THIS LIBRARY BUILDING PURCHASE. ALL ARE SORELY MISSING.
HARDING PROPOSED TO TRL THAT THE CITY WILL PAY FOR THE BUILDING – NOW HE REQUESTS PUBLIC DONATIONS TO REDUCE THE EXPENSE “BURDEN”.
3. Quoting Mayor Harding:
It is important that we dont take for granted that the city will pay for this purchase in its entirety using city taxpayer resources.
OK, FINALLY WE HAVE MAYOR HARDING SPECIFICALLY STATING THE CITY CAN NOT OR WILL NOT PAY THE ENTIRE AMOUNT OF HIS ONE-MILLION DOLLAR PROPOSAL. HOWEVER, HARDING DOES NOT STATE WHAT THE CITY CAN/WILL PAY VS. WHAT IS TO BE FUNDED BY PUBLIC FUNDRAISING EFFORTS.
THIS QUESTION NEEDS TO BE SERIOUSLY EXAMINED –
IS THIS FACILITY TOO LARGE, TOO COSTLY AND UNAFFORDABLE TO PURCHASE?
4. In a letter received by Mayor Harding on June 2, 2011, TRL Director Michael Crose states:
Mayor Harding said that the city would agree to take over the obligation to provide full building maintenance for the facility.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL COST OF THE FACILITY, BONDING INTEREST EXPENSE AND MAINTENANCE TO THE CITY FOR THE 20 YEAR BOND TERM?
The letter goes on to say the TRL Board approves to commit up to $37,000 per year & that TRL wishes to enter into an agreement with the City of Yelm.
I ASKED TRL DIRECTOR CROSE LAST WEEK THE STATUS OF THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE CITY OF YELM AND HE REPORTED:
“Timberland will arrange for its own janitorial services, have utilities specific to the library billed directly to the [Library] District and intends to agree to a number of other related services.”
He continued that TRL will not write a $37,000 check to the city annually for 20 years, rather pay the annual aforementioned services up to $37,000. If only $15,000 a year, that is what TRL will pay, for example.
Crose stated this is the “direction we have been planning for with all city owned buildings for the past few years.” He said an agreement between TRL and the City of Yelm for services should be finalized by the end of September.
5. Yelm Library Advisory Board member Glen Nutter wrote a beautiful letter in the local newspaper published last Friday. I applaud he and his Board colleagues for their efforts, yet they still have been given no fundraising goals by the City of Yelm. On Tuesday, the Yelm City Council will re-establish a library fund to receive donations from the public. That is the extent of any official fundraising statement from the city.
6. Friends of the Library volunteer Cindy Teixeira wrote a letter to the local newspaper last Friday, as well. Again, this fine organization has been provided no fundraising goals by the city.
TO GET MAJOR DONOR SUPPORT FROM FOUNDATIONS, BUSINESSES & MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS WITH LOCATIONS IN YELM, MAYOR HARDING NEEDS TO TELL THE PUBLIC WHAT THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THE CITY WILL PAY, ESTABLISH FUNDRAISING GOALS FOR THE DIFFERENCE AND COMMUNICATE THEM WITH THE LIBRARY ADVISORY BOARD AND THE PUBLIC.
Keven Graves is quoted from his November 25, 2005 editorial in the local newspaper:
“We (he & then Mayor-elect Harding) agree that a transparent government is better government.”
The fundraising goals and amount the city can afford to purchase the Yelm Library have been conducted in an environment far from being “a transparent government”.
‘TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT’ IS A WEEKLY SERIES DISCUSSING LOCAL ISSUES EVERY MONDAY!
Quoting American Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
“To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men.”