The New London Library Board plans to move ahead with the purchase of a second property across the street from the library.
Backed by state statute and a private donor, the board plans to move forward without a commitment from the city to raze two buildings on the site or to lend money to the library for the purchase of 405 S. Pearl St.
The $46,500 purchase price was donated to the library board by Milt Staskal.
In September, library board president Ron Steinhorst asked the city’s Finance and Personnel Committee to recommend the loan of $36,500 toward the purchase.
Steinhorst, who is a member of the finance committee, also asked the city to partner with the library by paying for demolition of buildings at 401 and 405 S. Pearl.
The library board already owned 401 S. Pearl St.
The finance committee voted Sept. 4 to recommend the loan. Committee chairman John Romberg said he would not entertain a motion on the demolition funds or a request that the city secure first purchase rights on two other properties on the back side of the block.
A week later, the loan failed to win the needed eight votes from the 10-member New London Common Council.
Steinhorst and Staskal, who brokered the purchase of 401 S. Pearl several years ago, did not give up. The library building fund had a $10,000 donation that could be used to acquire 405 S. Pearl St. After the council vote, Steinhorst said on Wednesday, Oct. 2, Staskal delivered a check to the library trust fund to cover the balance.
The finance committee met again on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and briefly discussed with city attorney Earl Luaders how to proceed with the acquisition.
Steinhorst read the state statute that says library boards can accept donations and use the donations to make purchases on their own.
No action was needed by the committee.
Romberg again asked the library board for a time frame for fund raising and a referendum asking voters to approve tax money for a new library.
“I don’t know of anybody on this committee or the council who objects to the library,” Romberg said, adding that he wanted to see things play out as the library board had proposed earlier.
Currently the public library shares a building with the New London Public Museum. Both need more space.
A 2009 plan for a new library proposed a 27,000-square-foot building at an estimated cost of $6.5 million. The current library building would be renovated for the museum, at an estimated cost of $2.75 million.
Steinhorst envisions the new library, occupying the full block across from the current library, and the renovated museum as a suitable southern gateway to New London.
The finance committee approved an increase in pay for the city attorney from $13,000 to $20,000 per year. The pay raise would take effect after the next election, in April 2014.
The item was on the agenda for council consideration at the Tuesday, Oct. 8, meeting.
City attorney Earl Luaders asked for an increase in pay for the position, noting the pay had been $13,000 since 2007.
“$20,000 would be a very reasonable amount,” Luaders said.
He said he’d never kept track of his hours spent on city business, and those hours varied widely. He estimated he averages two hours a week on work for the city.
“There’s always something, I would say, on my plate,” Luaders told the committee.
Mayor Gary Henke said the city was “getting a Cadillac lawyer at Hyundai prices” in Luaders, whose current term ends in 2014.
Luaders has been city attorney since 1980.
Residents of election districts 1 and 4 will vote at new polling places.
The District 4 polling place will be at Crystal Falls banquet facility for 2014, due to the destruction of Trinity Lutheran Church by a tornado last summer. This is a temporary move.
The District 1 polling place will be at First Congregational Church, rather than the public library. City clerk Susan Tennie said in a memo that the change was due to space constraints and an increased number of voters.
The Oct. 8 council agenda included approval of the poll changes.
Police Chief Jeffrey Schlueter reviewed suggested changes to the one-day special class B license procedures.
The committee suggested a 45-day advance application rather than 60 days.
Henke said that was enough time for required inspections.
“The more time we put on things, the more we look like big bureaucracy,” Henke said.
City administrator Kent Hager explained a new salary ordinance and the pay plan study that led to it.
The ordinance covers non-union, full-time employees. It establishes 19 pay grades. Workers in pay grades one through 12 will be assigned specific salary steps with pay increases at 2 percent.
Management staff in pay grades 13 to 19 are not assigned specific salary steps. They will be considered for an annual salary increase based on performance as determined in an annual evaluation.
Workers who are represented by AFSCME for 2014 will receive a pay increase of 1.66 percent, as set by state law.
Police Chief Schlueter asked that the police lieutenant position be classified as pay grade 15. The suggested ordinance had put both the lieutenant and assistant police chief in grade 16.
Hager said he would meet with city employees soon to explain the new pay plan in detail.
The council was expected to vote on the ordinance at its Oct. 8 meeting.