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New PHCSA board holds first meeting
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PALM HARBOR – The proceedings of the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, or PHCSA, progressed a little slower than usual Nov. 20, as its four newest members acquainted themselves to the unique board and its former members grappled with nuances of the changed county ordinance.

County commissioners appointed Tom McKone and Terry Haas of Tarpon Springs and Holly Bird and Elliott Stern of Palm Harbor in late October. The Nov. 20 meeting was the first meeting of the new board, which also includes current chair Rex Haslam, representing CSA Palm Harbor, Sharon Pikulinski representing Palm Harbor Library and new member Rob Moore, East Lake Community Library’s first representative on the agency board.

“I’m elated that East Lake is going to have, not just a presence but a vote,” McKone commented after introducing himself.

East Lake parking lot

The East Lake Library not only has a new representative, but a fairly new director, Lois Eannel. One of her first challenges since being hired in September has been the library’s parking lot.

“There had been attempts in the past to get the county to repave the parking lot, especially since we have the large recycling bins there,” she explained to the board.

Eannel discovered that drainage pipes installed in 2011 were inadequate and placed in the wrong location.

“The main issue turns out to be that we have to have a larger diameter pipe draining into the front retention pond and not directly into the wetlands,” she said. “As far as the parking lot itself, it would be a major job. The county will not come in and simply repave by throwing asphalt on top of something that needs re-grading and milling.”

The library could have the parking lot power-washed, resealed and restriped, which would give it another three to five years by protecting it from further water damage, she said. But even that work would be pricy and not a long-term fix, she said. The county has said it won’t pay for it.

Stern asked the agency’s attorney Andy Salzman why the county wouldn’t be responsible for an infrastructure problem, given that the library was leasing the building from the county.

“I think they should be,” Salzman said. “This may ultimately require a fair amount of time and research. We’re probably going to have to meet with the county and discuss that.”

Haslam recommended Eannel look into the work done incorrectly in 2011 and ask whoever completed it to fix the issue. Eannel said she hadn’t been able to find any paperwork for the job, but would research it further.

Improving standards

Eannel also said she was assessing her current staff of 12, soon to be 14, in order to potentially revamp the library’s organizational chart and job descriptions.

“What I’m planning to do is see where the weaknesses are, perhaps improve the skill levels or the requirements for particular jobs so that we can bring ourselves up to the level where issues and problems that have existed in the past will not repeat themselves,” she said.

Now that East Lake is an independent library, Eannel said it was important to expect a minimal skill level and educational level for certain jobs.

“We are now going to be under the scrutiny of the county, they have given us this gift of allowing us now to be independent, and I think we want to prove ourselves that we are able to handle the new responsibilities,” she said.

Eannel said she would utilize the expertise of agency human resource generalist Mary Mason to give library job descriptions more details and requirements to move forward.

“I think it’s important to do it the right way and to utilize each individual’s strengths and have them in the right positions doing the right jobs,” she said. “It’s difficult, especially in light of the fact that we have decided already to expand hours starting in January. So, we’re doing a little bit of scrambling.”

New ideas for a new board

Salzman explained that he was reviewing each of the three entities’ bylaws, updating the rules to reflect the recent changes on the county level.

One new rule under consideration is a way to keep a brand new appointee from becoming the board chair, likely by requiring chairs to be a member of the board for at least a year. Salzman said he would work on a way of wording the requirement. The board will officially approve any changes to the bylaws as they are drafted.

In reviewing Florida’s open government, or Sunshine, laws with the new members, Salzman touched on the agency’s email policies. Primarily, members of the board are asked to copy Mason on any official emails they send, so that all electronic dialogue for all members of the agency could be stored in one inbox.

Up to now, the agency has not maintained an independent Web domain; instead each board member uses their personal email addresses for official correspondence. The possibility of claiming a PHCSA-specific domain, separate from the libraries’ and CSA Palm Harbor’s sites was discussed at great length.

A staff member will be looking into the possibility of creating a secure email system for the board to use.
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