Commissioners, library to address dispute

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The Craig-Moffat County Library director received a letter instructing her to attend a meeting with the Moffat County Commissioners on Thursday.

Donna Watkins, library director, said she doesn't know what issues the meeting will address, but she plans to attend anyway.

Her lack of knowledge regarding the meeting agenda is a good example of why the commissioners say they called the meeting. They hope to improve their communication with the library board and director, Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

Commissioner Les Hampton held similar hopes for the meeting.

"We have to have some dialogue to determine how the board fills their roles," he said.

Hampton said problems between the commissioners and library go back years. For the last three years, he said he's heard "numerous complaints and concerns from (library) employees and patrons." Employee turnover is high at the library, and some former employees have complained of "intimidation," Hampton said.

Watkins declined to comment on the employee turnover at this time.

However, the relationship between the commissioners and the library hasn't always been poor, Raftopoulos said.

Indeed, she felt the relationship was a strong one when she was elected commissioner eight years ago. When the library was struggling to complete its accounting, the work was moved to the county office, Raftopoulos said.

But in recent years Raftopoulos has watched the relationship deteriorate. Now the library board and commissioners are arguing about which entity is the legal custodian of an exit interview the Moffat County Human Resources Department conducted with a former library employee, which the commissioners plan to address.

Some library board members have said the county had no right to conduct the interview.

They raised questions regarding the library's liability if the interview was not kept confidential.

Some library board members have

seen the exit interview and others haven't. When the Daily Press talked to library board member John Ponikvar in July, he had not seen the interview but said the interview could help the board figure out why employee turnover is so high.

The county's insurance would cover any lawsuits filed by library employees, Hampton said. That means the county assumes liability for the handling of the exit interview, which makes it the custodian of the interview, he said.

County attorney Kathleen Taylor agreed with Hampton's assessment of the situation.

Also at issue is a proposal for the library board to evaluate Watkins' performance as library director. Watkins has never been evaluated as director, but Hampton and Raftopoulos favor evaluations. In July, Watkins said she held no opinion on evaluations.

The meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday in the commissioner chambers at the Moffat County Courthouse.

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