- Editor’s note: I was elated to read Eric Rosanne’s story in the Nisqually Valley News reporting on council member Joe DePinto’s notification to the mayor, city administrator and council that he was moving forward on council’s long-desire to seek an alternative to the City of Yelm owned “condo” with the outrageous Operations & Maintenance (O&M) contract having a major impact on the city’s budget. Key points from Rosane’s story:
- DePinto invited Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Executive Director Cheryl Heywood to Yelm to meet with owners of the Nisqually Plaza shopping center to investigate the feasibility of a ground floor space with plentiful parking, allowing the popular TRL branch room to expand.
- The “condo” purchase came with an attached Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Contract and associated expenses that will cost nearly as much as the $1,000,000 “condo” bond.
- Rosanne reported, “During the biennium budget amendment process earlier this year, it was revealed the library had used up its full two-year operations and management budget on unanticipated HVAC and elevator repairs.”
- “The library’s operations budget was $25,000, but the unexpected repairs cost the city $50,000. For DePinto, that was the tipping point.”
- “DePinto said he’s now in favor of selling the property, hopefully for more than the approximate $1 million the city paid.”
- More insights from the Yelm Community Blogger:
- Covered by this blog was Councilor Tad Stillwell’s suggestion to the city council on Sept. 4, 2018, to “see about getting rid of the $1 million condo” that houses the current library and do away with the intense annual O&M expenses, saying this would put the city in a “great cash position.”
- Stillwell asked council to gauge TRL’s interest about buying the old city hall building for a library. TRL said this building was not feasible.
- TRL’s charter also requires cities to provide the library structure.
- Stillwell previously had discussed options to sell the library condo so the city can conclude the massive, annual O&M library expenses. I reached-out to Councilor Stillwell for a comment about the current situation, and at the time of this post, had not received a reply. [Update: July 20, 2020, 8:24am. Councilor Stillwell responded, “I am still very interested in finding another location in an effort to reduce the expense to the city.]
- Now Councilor DePinto is again moving this issue forward directly with TRL, just as the Yelm Library Advisory Board did in 2007-2008 about the necessity of a new Yelm library building!
- From the city in 2007-2008: “The Yelm Library Advisory Board makes studies, reports, and recommendations and serves as an advisory body to the Mayor and City Council in all matters relative to the need for acquisition, utilization, care, maintenance and disposition of the library building or buildings and all property or equipment pertaining to or associated with library purposes which is or is intended to be owned by the City of Yelm…”
- The Yelm Library Citizens Advisory Board was then Chaired by me, Steve Klein, and met several times in 2007 and 2008 with the then-TRL Executive Director and TRL’s Facilities Manager, who guided the Board in their annual report and presentation to the mayor and council on March 25, 2008, about a new library building. Click here for that letter.
- Bottom line: Timberland Regional Library management and Yelm councilors plus the Yelm Library Citizens Advisory Board have directly collaborated several times over the last 2+decades in bringing suggestions and recommendations back to the mayor, city administrator, council and staff.
- I look forward to Councilor DePinto’s report to the mayor, city administrator, council, library taxpayers and patrons on what he learned!
A documentation of the Yelm library Condo expenses
+ On June 12, 2012, Yelm’s City Council voted unanimously to buy the library condo in Prairie Park for $1 million, plus O&M expenses and interest on the bond. This occurred was as The Great Recession had gripped the city, previously forcing council to defer maintenance and upgrades to the Public Works Department’s water/sewer systems [in 2009], from which Yelm remains under duress to this day. The sordid history of that purchase all without public input, was published here
+ The library’s full two-year (biennium) operations budget was $25,000, but the unexpected repairs cost the city $50,000, doubling those expenses in the middle of the budget biennium, as the NVN’s Rosane reported.
+ The Yelm Community Blog covered on January 5, 2016, the library “condo” expenses story and via a Public Documents Request, then reported “the association dues for Fay Fuller Condominium Association” as follows:
2015 $ 28,928.86
2014 $ 15,785.28
2013 $ 15,785.28
2012 $ 3,946.32
Blogger Klein is a former Yelm Library Advisory Board Chair and long-time donor.