The Hall County Library Board balked Tuesday night at Clermont’s request for the appointment of two Clermont residents to the board when vacancies occur June 30.
David Syfan, who represents the city, sent a May 5 letter on the issue, citing a clause in the Hall County Library System’s constitution that says the board should have 10 members “appointed by the local governmental agencies financially supporting the library on a regular basis.”
Clermont, which is suing the Hall County Board of Commissioners over what some residents and officials say was a promised library in the North Hall town, has financially aided the current branch in the town limits for about 30 years, Syfan said.
“The town ... does not foresee any difficulty regarding the appointment of their representatives,” he went on to say.
The library board held a called meeting at the Gainesville branch to reply to Syfan, who asked in his letter for any questions or concerns about the request be sent to him by Saturday.
Adrian Mixson, the library system’s director, said County Attorney Bill Blalock has said that Clermont has provided “no cash contribution to the library system,” only “agreeing to paying for certain types of services,” such as trash and water.
Commissioner Steve Gailey, a Clermont resident who voted against moving the library out of Clermont, said, “if Clermont was making payments to the Hall County Library System, this would be a totally different thing if you’re looking at the bylaws.
“Then, what’s in the bylaws concerning representation would have more teeth.”
The library board ended up voting to send a letter to Syfan saying it disagreed with his position that Clermont was entitled to seats on the board.
“It seems to me that the problem is not so much whether (Clermont) has a legitimate claim or not, but I don’t know whether it’s legitimate or not based on our constitution, which I think we need to deal with,” board member Mike Freeman said.
After the meeting, Clermont Mayor James Nix expressed disappointment about the board’s action, saying he would go to council members and “see what other path they want to take.”
“We’ve been into disappointments for a while,” he said.
They began in February, when Commission Chairman Tom Oliver proposed building the North Hall library on the same Nopone Road site as the planned North Hall park and community center.
Clermont residents immediately reacted, saying they had been promised the new library would replace the aging one in their town.
The town is suing the county for what some describe as abuse of discretion with sales tax dollars.
Nix told the library board Tuesday night that the reason the town had supported the library so long was that it had expected a new one would be built at some point.
The board did vote to direct Mixson to talk with Clermont and the county commission about taking over Clermont’s library expenses.
“If you think that you need help from the county commission, I would definitely ask for that,” Gailey advised the board. “... That way, we can get it in the budget this year.”
The board also voted to form a committee to review the section of the constitution dealing with board appointments.
Freeman pressed for the vote, saying the aim would be to “clear up any ambiguities that might be there.”
Melissa Weinman contributed to this report.