Ask Joe Eisner: If a library staff member is appointed to serve as board secretary, is that a conflict of interest?

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Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:


Question: If a library staff member is appointed to serve as board secretary, is that a conflict of interest?

Answer: No. An association or public  library board may appoint as secretary to the board any of the following:

1. current staff member, whether full or part time- there would be neither a conflict of interest nor a seeming impropriety in such an appointment.  In addition to their regular salary, a current staff member may be paid a stipend on a monthly basis, or in a lump sum, by voucher subsequent to each board meeting at which the person is performing  as secretary.

In the case of a public library, whether municipal or school district (SDPL), if the person appointed is a current staff member, whether full or part-time, there may be no need to report the arrangement to the local Civil Service Commission. (It would be prudent to consult with the Commission to verify this.)

If desired, the library board could seek Civil Service Commission  approval of a job title for this part-time position of board secretary, which might also involve paying the incumbent in the same manner as all other library employees are paid, including accounting for them on the annual report form which in conformance with Civil  Service Commission procedures is assumed to be submitted to the Commission.

SDPL’s submit such reports directly to the local Commission.  In the case of municipal libraries, depending on local practice, the report is submitted either by the library  directly or by the municipality in behalf of the library if the municipality includes library employees with municipal employees in the municipality’s  annual report to the Commission.

If the library staff is represented by a collective bargaining agent (CBA), it would be prudent to appoint as secretary to the board a staff member who is not represented by the CBA: example- anyone occupying a position which is identified in the CBA contract as “management/confidential”. That could include the library director.

2. current or past library board member- if the latter, the board may opt to compensate that person for the time involved in attending board meetings, and subsequently transcribing the minutes. A current library board member cannot be compensated for this function.

3.member of the public-  need not be a resident of the community and who may be compensated for such service.


Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.

 

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