After meeting Friday, the Whitley County Public Library Board agreed to continue withholding disbursements of county library tax funds to the Corbin Public Library Board of Trustees pending the signing of a formal contract.
In light of a series of allegations by Corbin Library employees of financial mismanagement, violation of open records and open meetings law and general mismanagement on the part of the Corbin Library Board of Trustees, the Whitley board agreed in November to suspend the disbursements pending an open records request for additional information from the Corbin trustees.
At the special called meeting, Whitley County Library Director Greg Meadors said the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives had recommended that a more detailed contract be drafted. The proposed contract will call for the Corbin Public Library Board of Trustees to adhere to open meetings laws and keep minutes as required by law as a stipulation to receiving the library tax revenue. In addition, the contract will detail how the Whitley County Library Board will disburse the tax revenue.
Under the original one-page agreement drafted in 1962, the Whitley County Library Board agreed to give 25 percent of the revenue collected through the newly enacted library tax to the Corbin Public Library. However there is nothing specific detailing when or how often those disbursements are to occur.
Meadors said he has been in contact with Whitley County Library Board attorney Martha Brown asking her to draw up the contract.
When contacted by e-mail last week Corbin Public Library Board President Brenda Jones said the board has not yet been notified about the contract proposal.
Whitley County Board member Gary Peters said it is not about what may have occurred in the past, but to ensure, from this point forward, things are done in the correct fashion.
At a special meeting between the Corbin Public Library Board and library employees held on December 3 to discuss the allegations, attorney Wes Tipton acknowledged that the library board is subject to open meetings law and will give notice of any special called meetings at least 24 hours prior. In addition, Tipton said meetings will be held at the library and only when the library is open.
“It won’t happen again,” Tipton said.
Corbin Public Library Interim Director Heather Croley and the Whitley County Library Board also brought up the issue of official minutes from multiple meetings of the Corbin board that are missing.
Among the missing minutes was the May 10 regular meeting when the Corbin board voted to terminate Library Director Julia Basil.
When the Whitley County board sent its open records request, it asked for meeting minutes for 2015 and 2016.
The May 10 minutes were not included in the response.
Following an open records by The News Journal request for minutes from any meetings held in May, Jones sent copies of minutes for meetings held on May 10, May 11 and May 24.
However, of the three, only the minutes from the May 24 meeting are signed by board members.
In addition, the May 24 minutes are more detailed, detailing not only who made the various motions, but who seconded the motions.
In the e-mail, Jones was asked the reason for the difference. Jones did not respond.
In a letter dated December 5, Jones asked Meadors to have the Whitley board reinstate the funding.
“During the meeting this past Saturday all the allegations were refuted and shown to be greatly exaggerated,” Jones wrote.
In the letter, Jones said the violations of open records and open meetings were moot, as none of the media outlets had requested to be notified about special meetings.
Tipton told the board to notify the local media whether or not a request had been filed. The News Journal has filed a new request and Publisher Trent Knuckles said such requests will be filed annually.
Jones said the board members agreed that the library doors will remain unlocked until any board meeting are concluded.
Jones stated that without the funding, cutbacks may be necessary.
Soon after news of the Whitley County board’s decision was made public, Corbin Library staff said that the library has sufficient cash reserves to continue to operation for six to seven months, even without the tax money.
Meadors said he hopes the contract will be ready when the Whitley County Library Board next meets on January 26.
However, should the contract be ready sooner, Meadors said the Whitley board may hold a special called meeting to approve it.