REDINGTON BEACH — The Redington Beach commission will join four other beach communities in offering a list of suggested changes to the Gulf Beaches Public Library.
The changes would, among other things, reduce the size of the library board, limit the library’s financial reserves and restrict the library’s building expansion.
Unlike other public libraries in the county, Gulf Beaches is a not-for-profit facility funded by five beach communities: Redington Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island. The amount each town or city contributes to the library budget is based on its population.
In introducing the proposals to commissioners Jan. 6, Redington Beach Mayor Nick Simons said the proposed changes came out of a desire last fall by Madeira Beach to reduce its donation by 30%. The reduction was opposed by the library’s Board of Trustees and library director Vincent Gadrix. Ensuing discussion by the mayors led to compiling six recommendations to be presented to the Board of Trustees, which has the authority to incorporate any or all of the suggestions.
Commissioner Tom Dorgan, one of Redington Beach’s two representatives on the library board, noted that Madeira Beach owns the land on which the library is located and mows the library’s lawn.
The recommendations are:
• Reducing the size of the library board, made up of members representing the five communities, from 10 to five.
• Reducing the amount of cash reserves. Simons said the library had substantial reserves, which should be limited to $100,000. The excess funds could be used improve the library’s technology and modernize the interior.
• Drafting a new interlocal agreement that would be renewed every five years.
• Returning donated funds to contributors should the library dissolve.
• Not expanding the library’s footprint.
• Bettering communications between board members and member cities and voting according to the cities’ wishes.
Simons sought a consensus from commissioners on the changes, but some were initially resistant. Dorgan, a longtime member of the library board, and commissioner Fred Steiermann wanted to leave the board size at 10.
Simons said that change was important to Treasure Island officials, who had hinted without the streamlined board they would drop out of the agreement and join with St. Pete Beach.
The mayor said he didn’t want to consider the idea of returning donations should the library dissolve, because he didn’t believe the library should be closed. Dorgan said returning money to some donors would be difficult because many of them are dead. Legal staff said state law dictates how such funds should be distributed.
Ultimately, commissioners agreed to the recommendations. Once a final consensus is reached by the other member communities, the recommendations will be presented to the library trustees.
In other news
The meeting occurred only hours after a mob supporting President Donald Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol in Washington, D.C. as members of Congress began deliberating the electoral count for President-elect Joe Biden. Simons began the commission meeting calling for a moment of silence.
“This is a dark day in the history of our country,” he said. “I’d just like to reflect on, just wisdom and guidance for the leaders of our country and observance of the rule of law.”
Commissioners also passed two ordinances on first reading. One would remove outdated provisions to the election code, including removing the phrase “absentee balloting” and replacing it with “vote by mail.”
The other ordinance would make changes to the code dealing with minor offenses such as property offenses, destruction of mangroves, trespass, and false alarms.
Kenneth Lotterhos and David Christ were reappointed to terms on the Planning Board.
Mandy Kwon was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Board. She replaced Shawntay Skjoldager, who had resigned to run for a seat on the town commission.