Board of Commissioners decides on library and sheriff requests

Cutting costs wherever possible, the Haakon County Board of Commissioners denied the library board's request for the K-gee's building and the sheriff's request for a new pickup.

Haakon County Auditor Patricia Freeman updated the commission on information she found regarding the Haakon County Public Library. She said that replies from Deene Dayton, director of Local Government Assistance with the South Dakota Office of Legislative Audit, in regards to statutes for libraries, there were none that said the county had to provide a library. She asked him, "The library received a donation of $50,000 intended for the building of a new library. This certificate of deposit was put under the control of our treasurer after an audit in past years. Does this CD have to go only for the intent of the donor or can it be designated for other use? Does [sic] the commissioners have final say as to what should be done with the CD?" Dayton's reply was, "The answer to this question would depend on the stipulations of the donor. What do you have on file that pertains to this donation. What did the donor specify..... I would suggest legal guidance if the county intends to spend the donated money on other than the donors specific wishes."

Chairman Gary Snook noted he felt the library could take the money and do what they wanted with it, but he could not support their purchase of the K-gee's building. He said he believed the county shouldn't give them any support if they moved to another facility. Council member Rita O'Connell asked him if he meant no support at all, to which replied affirmatively.

Annie Brunskill, librarian and library board members Kay Kroetch and Shirley Kangas joined the meeting at this point. Brunskill stated that according to their records the county implemented a levy for the library in 1957. Freeman said, "The Midland fire department levies, but that does not tie them to the county. That is the same with Milesville and the school Just because you levy does not tie you to the county. It actually makes it sound like you're not part of the county if you levy."

Brunskill said from her findings it was noted that the commissioners allowed the women's club to use a room on the fourth floor of the courthouse in 1931. She was unsure when they moved to the first floor. Freeman said, "The city is renting space, but they're not part of the county." She then asked Brunskill if the county paid anything back then to the library.  Brunskill said in a 1960 issue of the Pioneer Review it stated the county paid the librarians $25 per month salary, but the rest was supported by the club.

Freeman read excerpts from minutes from March 2003, April, December 2004, January, February, April, June July, August, September, and October 2006, February and April 2007 and March 2009; all in regards to actions or discussion about the library at commissioner's meetings.

Freeman asked Brunskill if States Attorney Gay Tollefson had ever said anything to her in regards to ownership of the K-Gees building. Brunskill said that a foundation could purchase the building and retain ownership. Freeman said that based on a response from Dave Schlosser, S.D. Legislative Audit, the commissioners would have to approve the purchase.

Discussion between the board and Brunskill involved if the library's budget was cut how would they keep operating. Board member Rita O'Connell said that had been discussed and either hours would have to be cut back or volunteer labor would have to be used. O'Connell asked her fellow board members, "My point is, if we can get to the point where county is not liable for the building, if at that point you guys would approve them using their money?"

Snook said, "My suggestion, we release that money back to the library. You go out and do what you want. We might not commit to the librarian." Board member Ed Briggs said, "There's times you should hang on to what you've got."

Board member Nick Konst said he was not ready to support the move. He believed there would be hidden costs and that eventually the money would run out. Snook added he was concerned with the board approving the purchase and then having to cut the budget.

Freeman said, "I think you have to look at what's pertinent to the function of the government. And like we said emergency management, library, weed and pest, those can all be looked at and changes made on them ..."

Brunskill asked for clarification, "You're saying, if we can find some other way to do the library and our foundation found ways to support it, you're okay with that." Snook said, "You'd be on your own at that point. I say we keep what we've got, but we don't want to be part of anything else."

"I feel similar to Gary. If you want to take your money and go on your own," board member Steve Clements said. "I don't think anyone on this board can guarantee the library budget won't be cut."

The board approved a motion to support the library as it stands and operate it as it has been due to budget constraints. O'Connell gave the lone decenting vote.

Freeman then read from past minutes in regards to a request by a former librarian for working time for summer programs without being open to the public. "But that has continued on," she said. "There have been complaints. Since it is a full-time position with benefits, we are not allowed to close doors and work." She added that even though she is open over the noon hours when other courthouse offices are closed, the library should be open from nine to five. O'Connell said that while the county pays the librarians salary, she is a distinct different entity because she has the library board as supervisors.

Snook said, "the only say we have is cut the budget, to cut those wages for those hours." Rita Merrill added that the library doesn't open to the public until 11:00 a.m. Konst said, "I think we need to address that." O'Connell said that would have to be addressed to the library board as that was their decision.

In regards to a sheriff's vehicle, Konst read a letter from the Philip City Council which stated they would not reduce the price of the 2004 Durango to $10,000. The board approved to go ahead with the purchase price of $12,500 offered by the city.

The board met as a board of equalization. Director of Equalization Kevin Pfeifle presented the board with growth figures, a list of assesment freezes for the elderly and disabled and two assessment value adjustments.

The county saw $1,055,890 worth of growth last year. Ten individuals were approved for assesment freeze. No contested assesments were filed.

The board approved Pfeifle's travel request for certification testing.

Freeman informed the board that the insurance presentation would have to be tabled as the quote was not ready, due to county employees not turning in paperwork in on time. The board will meet in special session Tuesday, April 19 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the insurance proposals.