Library boards have been a hot topic in Pulaski County in recent months. Now they’re becoming a talking point for Frankfort too.
Senate Bill 20, which was introduced to the Kentucky State Senate by Sen. John Shickel of Boone County last month, stands to have a significant effect on the way library boards are built if it’s passed.
This bill would allow a county judge-executive — with the approval of a fiscal court — to appoint members to such a board when any prospective appointees presented to the judge, “in the judge’s opinion, are not suitable,” as the bill reads.
Previously, the judge-executive had been given the opportunity to approve the names brought to him, such as Pulaski County Public Library Director has done with Pulaski Judge-Executive Barty Bullock here locally. If Bullock wouldn’t approve them, the director would then go back and bring him new names. The county government itself, however, did not select people to hold seats on the board.
How much influence the county government should have over the library board became an issue locally last fall, when a petition drive began to dissolve the Pulaski county Public Library taxing district. Barbara Sanders, who spearheaded the petition, sought to give the fiscal court more oversight of the library board, which she felt was increasing taxes without proper accountability. Sanders eventually said she would stop accumulating signatures if the current board members would step aside and allow new ones to be appointed.
“The library supporters think the library board is selected by elected county officials. It is not,” Sanders said at the time. “(Bullock) has no input. They bring him two names that they have selected themselves and say ‘here, you must appoint them.’ As a formality, they run it by the state librarian first. ... This is not participation; it is autocratic.”