A Yorkville Library Board member urged city officials to communicate better with board members at the Nov. 28 City Council meeting.
Board member Jason Hedman, who Mayor Gary Golinski appointed to the board in April, suggested at the City Council meeting that city and library officials meet in a “joint committee” fashion for the coming fiscal year’s budget process.
Library Board President Russ Walter and Library Director Elisa Topper attended the meeting with Hedman but did not speak to the council.
Golinski said while he understands the Library Board’s concerns, city officials need to focus on the needs of the entire city.
“I definitely understand their concerns,” he said. “I’m definitely a big supporter of the library, and I think it’s vital to what makes Yorkville so great. I think the Library Board and the new director are all good stewards for the library, but the City Council and myself, we have to be stewards for the whole city.”
Golinski said other city departments could use more money in addition to the library.
“I really don’t think throwing more money at them is the answer,” he said. “Every department in the city could use more money, more people, more equipment, and right now every department in the city is operating at 2005 staffing levels at almost double our population since 2005. Every department head gets by on a slim budget, and they come in under budget because they know the needs of the city.”
Golinski said the city is facing several major infrastructure projects, including a new shared water treatment facility, and that those need to be the focus.
“One of the big things that’s looming out there and we need to find is a new source of water by 2040, or we’re gonna be having big problems,” he said. “So we’re looking at building a water plant that’s going to cost tens of millions of dollars. And honestly if the city had extra money in our budget, my first priority would be to either pave more roads or hire more cops.”
Golinski noted that while the library is under the umbrella of the city, since Yorkville doesn’t have a designated library district, the library has its own tax levy.
“The library is in a little bit of a unique situation because they have their own tax levy,” he said. “The citizens of Yorkville give them a certain amount of money to the library, and they have to find a way to do it.”
Golinski said the city and library are in the beginning stages of drafting a new intergovernmental agreement – the previous agreement had been in force for the past 20 years. The City Council voted in October to notify the Library Board that the city will terminate the current agreement as of May 1.
Topper, who started in October, replaced Michelle Pfister who retired this year after 20 years as director. Golinski and other city officials had suggested that the Library Board hire Parks and Recreation Director Tim Evans as a part-time director and use parks and recreation staff to augment library staff in an effort to save money. However, the Library Board rejected that idea and went ahead with plans to hire Topper as a full-time director.
“The city and the City Council, we’re all there to help them find a way,” Golinski said. “Unfortunately, they shot down our first proposal, which would’ve solved many of their problems, but hopefully we can find another way, helping them with building maintenance and anything else we can do.”