PALM HARBOR – Director of the East Lake Community Library Patricia Perez was given a favorable annual review, with the caveat that she still has some things to work on.
The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, which oversees the library, completed the review in conjunction with the library’s advisory board, said Marcus Harrison, agency board member.
“The overall assessment for the director was satisfactory, acceptable performance. But we did notice some areas that could use some improvement in performance,” he said during the agency’s meeting Dec. 19.
The two boards asked Perez to look into courses on public relations and human resources, if available. The educational endeavor could help her “to understand her responsibility, and it might help in her management skills,” Harrison said.
The review also addressed an ongoing tension between the East Lake library director, the library’s advisory board and the pseudo-governmental that oversees it.
“It’s always been a struggle with Patricia that she thinks she’s dealing with two bosses,” Harrison explained. “I think what we ultimately discussed is that really she needs to take more ownership and understand that she’s really the one in charge at the helm.”
Perez’s performance review last year was surrounded by controversy, with the various entities still at odds in the wake of a verbal reprimand of Perez for poor performance, delivered by the former chair for the Palm Harbor agency in the months prior. The East Lake advisory board members, who had no issues with Perez, contended that they were not involved in the process of the reprimand or in her annual review.
Members of the agency later collaborated with the advisory board to deliver a joint review. The reprimand was never officially delivered in writing.
This year’s review was presented with little comment from the remaining members of the agency board. Perez has committed to working toward the goals outlined for her, Harrison said. He emphasized that role of both the Palm Harbor agency and the library advisory board was only legal oversight of East Lake Community Library.
“She really needs to be making the decisions. If there are issues, they’ll get brought back up and she can address those individually,” he said.
Possible revenue shortfall
During a review of the budgets for the other two entities of the agency – the Centre of Palm Harbor and the Palm Harbor library – Harrison questioned a seemingly persistent shortfall in the amount of property tax revenue collected.
For the last two months, both entities have been receiving $589 less in property tax revenue than projected. The difference is about 1 percent of the $63,401 in taxes the entities are each supposed to collect through a Palm Harbor special taxing district.
If the shortfall continues, both the library and the Centre could be out as much as $6,479 for the year. Erica Lynford, director for the Centre, agreed that the budgets would have to be amended to reflect the difference if the trend becomes permanent. But she didn’t want to make the change right away.
“I would be more comfortable waiting to see in a couple of more months how it shakes out,” she said.
Library Assistant Director Lois Eannel agreed, citing an additional need for a delay: the return of library Director Gene Coppola, who has been out on medical leave.