Legal issues including fees and receiving a letter from former director Floyd Council’s attorney highlighted discussion during the Carnegie Public Library four-hour board meeting Tuesday night.
Following a nearly two-hour executive session, board attorney Ted Connell reported the board acknowledged the receipt of the letter from Council’s attorney. Connell will be responding.
The board also discussed grievances from library employees against board chair Shelia Winters in executive session. Connell said the board will advise the employees to follow the seven-step process in the personnel manual.
In response to a report and recommendation from the Mississippi Ethics Commission, Connell said the board decided in executive session a response would be filed with a new format of the minutes used in executive session.
Board member Christopher Coleman brought up how the library had spent $11,033.85 during the current fiscal year when only $5,500 was budgeted for legal fees.
The board took a vote on whether or not to approve the financials with the understanding the overuse would be discussed at a future meeting. The vote was 4-4 so the financials were not approved.
“Where are we getting this extra money to pay legal fees?” Coleman said.
“At the end of the fiscal year in September, we’ll see what’s left over,” said accountant Dena Upchurch.
Winters said funds could be moved from one line item to another in the future.
“We have not moved any funds,” Winters said. “It will be taken up at that time with the board.
“As it stands, these are not the only legal fees that occur.”
Upchurch said the $11,033.85 had been paid.
When Coleman asked where the money came from, Upchurch said, “From the general funds, I assume.”
“I don’t need you to assume,” Coleman replied. “You’re the accountant.”
JoAnn Blue was the librarian when the budget was put together. Council took over in January, but resigned in April.
“When Ms. Blue set the budget up, we did not anticipate the legal fees being what they have been,” Winters said.
Winters said everything the library has gone through the past year and a half caused the legal fees to be higher than expected.
Board member Jennifer Joyner proposed amending the bylaws so the board could recommend to remove a board member for things such as abusive behavior and interference with management. If the board voted to recommend a board member’s removal, the matter would be brought to the Clarksdale Board of Mayor and Commissioners or Coahoma County Board of Supervisors.
Since changing the bylaws was not on the agenda for Tuesday, it is expected to be discussed at the June 15 meeting.
The board tabled discussion of advertising for a new executive director with a salary range for the Carnegie Public Library until the June meeting for legal reasons.
Interim Carnegie Public Library director Mary L. Caradine proposed several changes in her report that were approved.
The board approved opening the library at 50 percent capacity. It was previously at 25 percent capacity. Wearing masks will still be required, there will be sanitation stations in place and social distancing will remain.
The board also approved kicking off the summer reading program. A total of $3,400 will be allocated for the program. Holmes Pettey Insurance Inc. Financial Advisors, LLC donated $400 to the library, which will be part of the money used for the summer reading program.
Caradine also reported The America’s Farmers Grow Communities donated $2,500.
“This is a competition of the local farmers,” Caradine said.
Caradine said Beverly Massey of Lyon won the competition and agreed to give the library the $2,500.