Forest Park village commissioners have voted to adjust the terms of most Forest Park Public Library trustees in order to bring them into compliance with state law.
Under the Illinois Local Library Code, in villages with a commission form of government, the village council appoints six library trustees for six-year terms that are staggered by one year.
For example, if two trustees were appointed in 2020, the next two would need to be appointed in 2021 and the next two would need to be appointed in 2022. But over time, Forest Park drifted away from that pattern, with trustees starting their terms on four different, not always consecutive years.
During their Sept. 27 meeting, village commissioners voted unanimously to adjust the terms to bring them in line with state law. The trustees still have their seats, but most of their terms are now either longer or shorter than before. And the board still has a trustee vacancy for a term that will expire in 2024.
While the Local Library Code requires the village council to appoint the trustees, in practice, Forest Park mayors have been making appointments with the council voting to approve those choices.
According to a memo by Village Administrator Moses Amidei, library Trustee James Pekoll was appointed in June 25, 2018, while Vice President Keary Bramwell was appointed in June 8, 2020, with their terms expiring in 2024.
Board President Brooke Sievers and Trustee Lin Beribak were originally appointed to fill vacancies and got reappointed to full terms on June 8, 2020 and June 26, 2017, respectively, so their terms would’ve expired in 2026 and 2023. Trustee Eboni Murray was appointed to fill a vacancy on Aug. 8, 2021, with her term scheduled to expire in May 2027.
This meant that the library ended up with two trustees who were appointed to their current terms in 2017, a trustee who was appointed in 2018, two trustees who were appointed in 2020 and one trustee who was appointed in 2021.
Both Amidei and Forest Park Public Library Director Pilar Shaker previously indicated that they had no idea how the terms ended up out of alignment, since whatever happened preceded their respective tenures.
The village council voted to adjust the terms, so that Beribak’s term and the term of whoever will fill the vacancy will end on May 13, 2024. Bramwell and Pekoll’s terms will end on May 12, 2025, and Sievers’ and Murray’s terms will end on May 11, 2026. This shortened Murray’s term by one year, lengthened Bramwell’s, Pekoll’s and Beribak’s terms, and kept Sievers’ term the same.
The Local Library Code doesn’t set term limits for library trustees, so the mayor can simply reappoint any of the current trustees once their current terms are up.
The village council also approved the library’s request for the building and maintenance fund levy. As previously reported by the Review, this is something that the library has been requesting since 2007, and assures that 0.02 percent of the existing library levy will be used for maintenance purposes.
In a letter to the village council, Shaker indicated that the library planned to use those funds “to finance deferred maintenance issues, to keep up with regular maintenance of our facility and to pay for needed repairs and upgrades.”