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Kaneville Public Library weighing options for new employees

KANEVILLE – The Kaneville Public Library District Board hopes to get some temporary help as it works toward replacing staff after former Executive Director Lynda Fillipp and part-time worker Lynn Meredith were terminated Aug. 24.

The library closed Aug. 24, and was shut down for multiple days. It resumed reduced days and hours Sept. 5 from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, according to documents provided through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“We are hoping to get some assistance from Shannon Halikias from the Sugar Grove Public Library and Carla Limbaugh [former Aurora librarian],” Peggy Domena-Ward, treasurer for the district, said at an Oct. 3 meeting of the board. “They would be a perfect fit and help give us some time to hire a new director and other personnel."

Halikias said that she is always happy to pitch in for others because libraries are a vital part of the community.

“We just reached out to help, as I think neighbors should," Halikias said. "When I visited the library, I just offered to fill in a bit so they have time to make the best decision and buy them a little time, and make sure the library stays on track.”

Limbaugh could not be reached for comment.

Halikias is now waiting to see what the next steps are. The library is weighing its options for new employees.

During the meeting, it was discussed that legally the library doesn't need to have someone in the director's position. But the Kaneville Public Library needs a paid employee on staff working at least 15 hours per week.

Fillipp, who started working for the Kaneville Public Library in 2016, had questionable control of the budget, according to a June 14 email from Domena-Ward to Board President Karen Kneller and Vice President Annette Theobald.

“She seems to shoot from the hip a lot when it comes to monies,” Domena-Ward wrote in an email provided through the Freedom of Information Act. “All of the stuff she has brought into [the] library has NOT been free like she stated at [the] meeting. That’s another reason why petty cash control is so important.”

The fiscal year 2016-17 budget, which runs from July 2016 to June 2017, shows that the library was over budget. Overspending in new books, audio visual materials and children’s programming resulted in the library being over budget in those categories by $7,723.

Total budgeted expenditures for the library were $85,275 for the 2016-17 fiscal year; that amount was exceeded by $6,873.47, according to the budget provided via the Freedom of Information Act. Total revenue budgeted was $87,275, with actual revenue coming in at $88,161.

In comparison, during the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Kaneville Public Library District had a remaining balance of $11,791.92, with expenditures budgeted at $87,460.

The 2014-15 budget showed a remaining balance of $6,840.89. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the remaining balance was $8,173.69. And for fiscal year 2012-13, the district stayed in the black as well, with a remaining balance of $9,056.68.

According to an email from Kneller, the district has $53,800 in a building, maintenance and remodeling fund. Kneller said the district has been working on a remodeling project for the past two years and hopes to finally move forward with the project next year.

Item circulation, measured in checkouts and renewals, from 2015 to 2016 increased from 2,978 to 4,506. The library was on track to match or exceed that number in 2017 – as of August the library had 3,586 items checked out and renewed, according to documents provided via the Freedom of Information Act.

By signing a dismissal letter, Fillipp promised not to sue the library and admitted she had no pending claims against the library district. In addition, Fillipp signed an agreement of confidentiality with the library agreeing to “keep the terms of severance confidential and not disclose any information concerning it to anyone except [her] spouse, attorney or tax advisor."

Kneller wrote in an email that Fillipp received a full month’s pay –133 hours at $16.50 an hour, resulting in an amount of $2,194.50 – for her last month at the library, even though she didn’t work the full month.

In a June 23 email, Kneller advised Fillipp not to hire Meredith, who was a friend of Fillipp's.

“Lynda, not sure hiring [Lynn] Meredith is going to be a good idea,” Kneller wrote. “I think the board is going to have a problem since she is a good friend of yours. It can be difficult to supervise friends. Give it careful thought before moving forward.”

Meredith was making $9 an hour and worked six to seven hours a week.

In addition, Fillipp suggested holding an employee’s paycheck until he or she returned a book to the library. In reply, Domena-Ward suggested charging the employee for the book.

When asked for comment about what was provided in the Freedom of Information Act documents, Theobald wrote in an email: "Our library is a small library that services roughly 1,200 people. Our budget is roughly $86,000. We generally have three employees. The current library executive board has combined volunteer hours … of over 100 years. Most people are quite impressed with our little library. Everyone on the board wants to see that the library continues to serve the residents of Kaneville Township."

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