After over 18 months of turmoil, new Farmington Community Library board president Danette Duron-Willner last week offered an apology to staff and the community.
Trustees elected officers last month. Longtime president Jim White moved into the position of secretary. Newly appointed Farmington Hills trustees Ernie McClellan and Kathie Brown serve as vice president and treasurer, respectively.
Their Thursday, November 11, meeting marked the first time trustees gathered in person since March 2020.
Duron-Willner said she and McClellan met and agreed to offer “statements of unity” not only in tough times but also to help build bridges among the board, staff, and the community. She acknowledged that actions, discussions, and decisions made by previous boards “have added stress and confusion.”
Since April of 2020, those have included an extended COVID-related furlough, firing information technology (IT) staff, former trustee Bill Largent’s criticism of staff, and spending on IT, communications, and organizational consultants. Controversial director Riti Grover resigned in September, following a no-confidence vote and extended leave.
While trustees wanted to ask for community and staff support, Duron-Willner said, “we need to ask forgiveness first.”
“We apologize to staff and community members for board actions, decisions, and discussions that were felt to have negative impact,” she said.
Work to rebuild the library, Duron-Willner said, includes everything from showing respect for all staff members to developing a strategic plan, all with an “inclusive and transparent approach.”
“We commit to thinking beyond ourselves individually and to thinking more inclusively,” she said. “Let’s continue forward progress.”
Earlier in the meeting, trustees learned the library is on a positive financial path. Plante Moran consultant Brian Camiller reported on adjustments to the $6.9 million budget, including $55,000 in revenues, and $243,925 in spending.
Increased retirement and technology costs and maintenance projects drove increased expenditures, offset by a smaller contribution to the capital projects fund. The budget still allows for a $379,126 transfer.
“Really, overall, it’s very positive, the fact that you’re able to increase expenditures midyear, but you’re still putting money aside for the future,” Camiller said.