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Library Costs Examined as PR Delays …w/ Huntington Woods

Library Costs Examined as Pleasant Ridge Delays Contract Vote with Huntington Woods934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 1, 2014)

The Pleasant Ridge City Commissioners split their votes at their August meeting on a move to delay approving a five year contract with Huntington Woods for library services. City Manager James Breuckman recommended approving the contract, rather than putting out a bid. Members of the Ferndale Public Library Board had been talking with Pleasant Ridge leaders about wanting to make a bid, since many Pleasant Ridge residentsnicholas-schrock-allstate use the Ferndale Library

Mayor Kurt Metzger and Commissioner Bret Scott wanted to approve the contract immediately, while Commissioners Jason Krezysiak, Jay Foreman, and Ann Perry voted to allow a 30 day window for public comment.

Breuckman recommended sticking with the Huntington Woods Library for several reasons. Pleasant Ridge has contracted with Huntington Woods for the last ten years, and in all of Oakland County, Pleasant Ridge residents pay the least for library services.

Breuckman presented data on communities where the library budget was easily discernible. He noted that Pleasant Ridge residents pay just $16 a year per person. For the same services, Huntington Woods residents pay about $70 per person. In Ferndale, residents pay about $45 per person. On the high end of the scale, Southfield residents pay about $90 per person, and Birmingham residents pay about $100 per person. The second lowest is Oak Park, with $26.90. The average is just under $50. 20140901librarycosts01petsitting

“About 60% of our residents with library cards use the Huntington Woods Library and about 40% use the Ferndale Library,” Breuckman said. “Many use the Royal Oak and Southfield Library, but the two major ones people use are Ferndale and Huntington Woods. Being members of the Library Network gives our residents privileges to use all the libraries, so we can still chose to use whichever library we like.”

The contract accounts for about 10% of the Huntington Woods Library’s total budget. “We would be hurting a partner that’s been good to us for ten years,” he said. He also explained that by opening up the contract to bid, they could be in a position where someone besides Huntington Woods or Ferndale could be the low Jim Shaffer KELLER ad blackbidder, or a position where Huntington Woods could bid higher than they are currently offering.

“We open ourselves up to a lot of risk where we get all of the same benefits, rights and privileges no matter who the home library is.”

The Ferndale Public Library is in the process of exploring becoming a District Library, and they invited Pleasant Ridge leaders to be a part of that process, reasoning that since 40% of residents take advantage of Ferndale Library services already, and since Pleasant Ridge is part of Ferndale Schools, that discussing a contract or being part of the District may make sense. At their July meeting the Board discussed the potential for having multiple entities being part of the librarysidebar01reader_support district, including the City of Ferndale and Ferndale Schools, though the idea is still in the early discussion phase.

Ferndale Library Board President Patrick Dengate said “After more than a year of informal overtures, we made a formal request to the Pleasant Ridge City Commission in mid-May to allow the Ferndale Public Library to bid on providing them library service. In an email on July 8, Mayor Kurt Metzger told me that it was not in the best interest of Pleasant Ridge to rebid their library contract at this time. With that response, there was no gallowaycollens1reason for the FPL to spend any time and money having our director and attorney work on a proposal.”

Mayor Metzger had wanted to proceed with the vote to approve the Huntington Woods contract. He said that with Ferndale “there never has been any discussion of the financial side of things,” and that with Ferndale they would not be able to have members on the board the way they do with Huntington Woods. “It’s those fine details that the public doesn’t understand and will not react to. How much information can we present them so they actually have a larger picture?”

Commissioner Krzysiak proposed the 30 day window. “My concern is notseed010_todd_blakenship with the recommendation,” he said. “I’m a fervent believer that the residents need an opportunity to weigh in on this.” He called the decision part of the “participatory framework” that he committed to when running for office.

Commissioner Scott said “I do not know that the added feedback would change my opinion on this matter,” and that a month’s delay on the vote seemed “arbitrary.”

Residents who want to weigh in can contact their Commissioner or the City Manager. Information is available on the City of Pleasant Ridge website at

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