The Moffat County Board of Commissioners appointed two new members to the Craig/Moffat County Library Board this week, but the appointments came as somewhat of a surprise to some long-standing board members.
Commissioners appointed members to a host of county board positions with expired terms at Monday's commission meeting.
Commissioners have the final say on appointing board members to county-funded operations including the library, the Museum of Northwest Colorado, the Craig/Moffat County Airport, the Craig Cemetery and others.
Tracy Elliott and Sharon Spalding will replace longtime board member Nadine Daszkiewicz, as well as former board member Christy Noble, who vacated the board last summer.
Commissioner Les Hampton said the two new appointees were chosen as "the best people to represent the community."
Hampton is the library's ex-offico board member responsible for reporting library matters back to the commissioners.
He also said that a letter to the editor written by Elliott and published in the Craig Daily Press was another reason for considering her appointment.
All those interested in serving on a county board must submit a letter of request to commissioners, a requirement fulfilled by Elliott, Spalding and Daszkiewicz. Library board members sign on for a five-year term.
But it's unclear whether a controversy that surrounded reducing library funds this year played a role in commissioners deciding to appoint two inexperienced members over Daszkiewicz, who has a five-year history with the board.
In late December, commissioners shaved almost $100,000 from the library's bottom line by reducing its mill levy from 1.9 mills to 1.539 mills.
Library officials said they were saving a surplus of funds for capital improvements, but commissioners said they needed the extra dollars to balance a cash-strapped 2004 budget.
Elliott's letter criticized library board members for considering cutting back hours when the commission first hinted at a mill levy cutback.
"Serve the taxpayers," Elliott wrote. "Stop being unnecessarily inflammatory. If the library were a retail business (not supported by the taxpayers) it would be crystal clear to the library board what hours they need to operate to better serve the majority of customers."
Daszkiewicz said she was surprised to hear that she hadn't been reappointed to the board.
"I'm disappointed, I felt that I was doing a very good job," she said. "I really didn't think I was being controversial. I was looking out for what's best for the library."
One of Daszkiewicz's overall main goals was finding a way to get the library open again on Sundays, a move some board members agreed some time ago was necessary to cut costs.
It will take the two new board members some time to catch on with library functions, said Library Board President Dave Longwell. Longwell is the only board member who holds more seniority than Daszkiewicz. He has served for the last 10 years.
"It takes about a year for people to get the flavor of what's going on," he said. "It's sad when people who want to put in the time and have experience can't (serve)."
At least five years ago, library board members informally interviewed candidates for board positions and passed those recommendations onto commissioners. Longwell said that process has been abandoned because commissioners weren't receptive, but he was open to pushing for that procedure again in the future.
"It could be a win-win for everybody," he said.
Now the library board must appoint a member to serve as secretary, a role that was set to be filled by Daszkiewicz.
Commissioners' decision to appoint new library board members over an experienced one didn't resonate with Longwell.
"It seems a bit odd to me," he said.
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.