BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — A proposed Grand Traverse County policy that city officials find discriminatory against city residents apparently derailed reorganization of the Traverse Area District Library Board.
The county board wanted the city to give up one of its three appointments to the seven-member library board to allow for broader geographic representation. City commissioners appear willing to give up one seat, but balked at a provision that bars the county board from appointing any city residents.
"I just thought that was ridiculous," said Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes. "Why do you want to exclude somebody who lives in the county if you are a county board?"
The city isn't demanding the county appoint a city resident; it's just that they don't want city residents excluded from applying for a post, Estes said.
"If they turn down a city resident for whatever reason, that's their choice," he said.
Estes negotiated the agreement with the county but said the would-be exclusion of city residents came as a surprise.
The exclusion also bothered other commissioners.
"I thought the whole point of this was to regionalize and be inclusive, not exclude people," said Commissioner Jim Carruthers.
County officials want to regionalize the library board after they received complaints from branch and member libraries that they lack representation on the board. County board Chairman Larry Inman acknowledged the county board itself created many of the problems with its appointments.
County board members put three residents from Peninsula Township on the library board, as well as county Commissioner Jason Gillman of East Bay Township, whose district includes Peninsula Township.
All seven board members live within an eight-mile radius, and six live within four miles of each other.
County officials will ask the independent library boards in Peninsula, Interlochen, and Fife Lake to recommend TADL board appointments. They also will try to avoid appointing more than one person from any of the seven county commission districts.
The county board already gave tentative approval to the reorganization plan, including the city resident exclusion. Inman said he doesn't know how the board will react to the city's stance.
"All we want is peace in the county, so when the county-wide library millage comes up for renewal in (2016) people aren't all mad about not having representation," Inman said.