By Jason Emerson
The Fayetteville Free Library’s efforts to update its 1909 founding charter and modernize the makeup of its board of trustees was officially approved by the state board of regents this month, putting to rest questions and criticisms about board management that have plagued the FFL board for the past two years. The newly approved charter also revises the library’s service area based on recent state mapping changes.
“These amendments modernize our governance structure and ensure that we have no conflicts of interest on our board and that we are in compliance with the New York State Not-for-Profit Revitalization Law,” said FFL Executive Director Sue Considine. “This brings our 19th century charter up-to-date with our 21st century organization.”
The library’s 1909 charter states that the board must have seven members, including the two ex-officio members of the “president of the village of Fayetteville” and the “president of the Fayetteville Board of Education.” Those two municipal positions no longer exist, and amending that clause was one of the major reasons for seeking the charter change.
During its Sept. 11 meeting, the New York State Board of Regents, which is responsible for “the general supervision of all educational activities within the state,” unanimously approved the FFL’s charter amendment application.
The proposed amendments were to:
The latter amendment was “an administrative adjustment” based on state mapping changes. The change added 34 people to the library’s coverage area, Considine said.
The other changes to the charter were made to address concerns raised by a group of Fayetteville residents in 2015 and 2016 who complained that the library had been violating its operating charter by not having two ex-officio municipal trustees and by not having enough trustees on the board.
Rather than include the Fayetteville mayor and the school district superintendent or board president on the FFL board, the trustees chose to delete the ex-officio requirement to avoid any conflict of interests and to remain true to its organization as a free association library, Considine said. Since the village, school district and library all vie for the same tax money during budget time, to have village and school officials on the library board would create a conflict of interest, she said.
The FFL currently has seven members on its board of trustees: David Wheeler and Randi Ludwig, co-presidents; Sarah Pralle, secretary; Pat Curtin, treasurer; and trustees Betsy Bower, David Pasinski and Keith Bybee.
With the charter changes approved, the FFL’s board will now amend some its bylaws regarding the library’s governance processes, Considine said. This is expected to occur at the board’s Sept. 25 meeting. The most important bylaw change will be enlarging the library’s association area within which candidates may be selected to serve on the board of trustees.
“This will allow us to cast our net to the larger F-M community to help us find excited and enthusiastic people interested in joining our board and helping to move our mission forward,” Considine said.
The board’s next meeting will be at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the library’s board meeting room. The meeting is open to the public.
To view the FFL petition to amend its charter, visit the website at fflib.org/boardoftrustees.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.