TREASURE ISLAND — A vote by Treasure Island commissioners to ratify an agreement to be a member of the Gulf Beaches Library consortium for five more years passed by a narrow 3-2 margin at their Oct. 5 meeting.
In 1971, five barrier island communities — Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores — formed the non-profit Gulf Beaches Public Library, now at 200 Municipal Drive in Madeira Beach.
In early 2021, mayors from those five communities, whose representatives comprise the Gulf Beaches Library Board, met and discussed recommendations to improve the library and reorganize the consortium contract.
After much wrangling, in which Treasure Island commissioners refused to ratify an early version of the contract, the four other beach cities largely agreed to make the changes Treasure Island requested. However, at the Oct. 5 meeting, at least two city commissioners still voiced displeasure with the contract, because there is no non-elected resident representation on the library board.
Commissioners Deborah Toth and Saleene Partridge argued that users of the library should have representation on the board. They said the public should have a non-elected resident representative from each city on the board.
But under a new change to the consortium contract, the Library Board would be reduced from 10 to 5 members, with each city having a voting member that is recommended to be an elected official from their city.
Among the other changes requested by Treasure Island, and ultimately adopted by the other cities, were reciprocal budget deadlines for both the libraries and member cities. Under the current scenario, the library has a deadline to present its budget, but member cities can wait until the last minute to tell the library how much funding it will receive.
“The commission felt this was crucial and it would then allow the library to adjust and plan prior to the beginning of the fiscal year in the event that a municipality rejected the proposed proportional share or its service agreement,” City Attorney Jennifer Cowan said.
In another important issue, an earlier version of the interlocal agreement included a recommendation that the library board adopt a policy directing reserves not to exceed $100,000. Cowan argued it is “general government practice to set a reserve as a percentage and not a dollar amount.”
The revised contract will now direct the library to adopt a policy stating undesignated fund balance reserves “shall not exceed 10% of its total undesignated fund balance,” rather than a dollar amount.
The consortium has agreed to move forward with an interlocal agreement that incorporated Treasure Island’s revisions.
Under the terms of the reorganization the Gulf Beaches Library will revise the makeup of its board, reducing it from 10 to five voting members. These members shall consist of one representative from each municipality. The agreement states “it is the preference of the municipalities that the member be an elected official of the municipality.”
The library board will also have alternate members from each municipality that would vote only when the municipality’s member was absent. The board will have one non-voting ex-officio member consisting of the library director.
However, at the Oct. 5 meeting, commissioners Toth and Partridge argued that the city should, once again, vote to reject the contract, this time asking for representation from the public on the board.
The request was voted down in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Tyler Payne, Commissioner John Doctor and Commissioner Deborah Wetzel voting to adopt the agreement. They said the elected representative from each city was already a resident representative.
The contract will now have to be approved by the Gulf Beaches Library Board of Directors.