TREASURE ISLAND — Commissioners declined to accept a proposed interlocal agreement regulating the Gulf Beaches Public Library, stating their concerns have not been addressed and they are not satisfied with why their suggested contract changes were denied.
The cities of Treasure Island and Madeira Beach and the towns of Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores are all signatories to an interlocal agreement that funds the library, which is operated by its own board of directors. Since the library is located in Madeira Beach at 200 Municipal Drive, that city has been handling revisions to the interlocal agreement.
During a Tuesday, May 18 work session, Commissioner Deborah Toth, the city’s representative on the library board, provided a series of reasons to reject the contract. Library Director Vince Gadrix not only agreed with Toth, he added that items in the revised agreement could lead the library on the road towards bankruptcy.
Treasure Island City Attorney Jennifer Cowan told commissioners the city’s concerns were presented to and rejected by Madeira Beach officials, which drafted the revised agreement earlier this year. Cowan noted Madeira Beach rejected Treasure Island’s request to give cities a deadline to respond to the library’s yearly budget request.
Under the terms of the revised interlocal agreement, the library could only keep $100,000 in reserves. The reserve cap was included by Madeira Beach officials who felt the library amassed too much in its reserve account.
Gadrix said that change could lead to the library’s bankruptcy. He told Treasure Island commissioners that another key issue in the agreement requests that the library submit its budget in the spring, which it does; however, it is “pretty open-ended” until Oct. 1 when municipalities accept it or not.
“That’s a lot of load on the library, particularly if we are bringing down our reserves and we don’t know if we are going to have a budget,” Gadrix said. “If we have $100,000 in the bank, and we don’t know until Sept. 15 that the budget is going be passed, it will affect us.
“Just with payroll, that $100,000 would be gone in 5 months,” he said. “The library would be bankrupt at that point … that timeline is not defined. I think it needs to be defined; I think it needs to be reinvented about what the process is about the towns approving the budget. That’s the practical matter right there, that isn’t articulated in the interlocal agreement.”
Toth called the $100,000 reserve limit “a ridiculously inappropriate number, because if you look at the proposed budget, one of the projects is a bathroom remodel, which costs $120,000.”
Toth reiterated that while the agreement requires the library to submit an annual budget by April 15, it does not provide a deadline for when the cities have to respond to that budget. Each year a municipality considers the service agreement and accepts or reject it, but there is no time frame for when the cities have to respond back to the library board, she said.
Cowan said in another matter of contention, Treasure Island requested that if the library was ever dissolved, the funds would be distributed to the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. Madeira Beach representatives felt very strongly that this wasn’t what was agreed to with the other mayors, she explained. As currently drafted, the interlocal agreement states upon dissolution, remaining funds would be distributed among participating cities and PPLC, based on their proportionate share.
Mayor Tyler Payne noted all of the items in the interlocal agreement are just recommendations; only the library board has the power to make changes to the articles of incorporation and bylaws. Recommendations in the interlocal agreement are not binding on the board at all. “The five cities are just collectively providing direction,” he said.
“I don’t think they are going to change it if we ask them to, because at least three other cities have already approved it, so it will take us voting no in order to go back to the drawing board,” Payne said. “If we don’t sign it, if one of the cities out of the five doesn’t sign it, it’s not an effective interlocal agreement because one of the five cities hasn’t approved it.”
Other commissioners said they felt that as one of the signatories, Treasure Island can ask to have its concerns addressed or the city won’t ratify it.
Commissioner Saleene Partridge said she would not be comfortable ratifying the agreement. Commissioner Beth Wetzel said that it doesn’t seem that adopting some of the city’s requests, such as adding in budget deadlines for cities, “would be that much of a big deal.”
Commissioner John Doctor said he is not in favor of moving the interlocal agreement forward to a regular session for a vote.
Commissioner Deborah Toth said the agreement “does need to have some clarity.” She said it does not address the actual users of the library.
Payne said he would go back to Madeira Beach officials and the other mayors and ask them to reconsider Treasure Island’s recommendations to the interlocal agreement or it might not be ratified by his commission.