Council OKs changes to library policies, late fees

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The City Council on May 11 approved changes to the Lebanon Public Library’s policies regarding late fees and circulation limits.
Library Director Kendra Antila asked the council to allow the elimination of overdue charges on children’s materials (including easy, junior and young adult).
“Late fees create a barrier that disproportionately affects low-income households, and we want to make sure we’re removing as many barriers as we can, especially barriers that prevent children from using the library,” she said.
According to Antila, the “fine-free for children” movement began in San Francisco in 1974, but more communities have recently adopted the practice. More than 56 percent of Oregon’s public libraries have eliminated these fines.
During the last pre-pandemic year, the library received $12,877 in late fees. Assuming half came from children’s items, the loss of such fines will not make a big impact on the budget, Antila said, and it would also allow several blocked accounts to be reopened.
She added that the policy pertains to fees for late returns. Fines for lost or damaged items would still be pursued by an outside creditor.
Policy changes also include an increase in the number of audiobooks, music CDs and videos that can be checked out at a time. In the past, due to low inventory, the library allowed a maximum of six items per household. The new policy will allow six items per cardholder.
Councilor Gamael Nassar asked to add an item to the day’s agenda; namely, to allow the council to make a proclamation for Pride Month.
“Instead of a mayor’s proclamation, can it be a council’s proclamation?” Nassar asked City Attorney Tré Kennedy.
The council can make a motion to approve by majority vote any document it sees fit, Kennedy said, but he cautioned against doing so at the meeting because the subject was not on the agenda and, thus, violated an Oregon Public Meeting law requiring proper public notice for significant items of discussion.
Nassar made a motion to add discussion of a Pride Month proclamation to the agenda, but it was not seconded. (Read more in our story at lebanonlocalnews.com/city-reacts-to-pride-proclamation-denial/)
Present at the meeting were councilors Wayne Dykstra, Gamael Nassar, Wayne Rieskamp, Michelle Steinhebel and Kim Ullfers. Mayor Paul Aziz was absent.

In other business, the council:
♦ Heard a request from Lindsay Pehrson, who intends to run for mayor during November’s election. She asked the council during public comment to consider leaving former Councilor Jason Bolen’s Ward 3 seat vacant until November so the public could vote for his successor. When a council seat becomes vacant before that councilor’s term ends, the council selects a replacement for the remainder of that term;
♦ Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Lebanon Fire District, allowing the city’s building official to conduct the district’s plan reviews and inspections following the departure of Fire Marshal Jason Bolen;
♦ Approved and accepted a sale deed for the Old Mill Trail. The Heatherington Foundation donated the improved Old Mill Trail and property between the trail and Santiam River to the City of Lebanon. It will be added to the currently city-owned Gills Landing;
♦ Held a public hearing for and approved the annexation of a .25-acre parcel east of Cascade Drive between Wagon Wheel Drive and Seven Oak Middle School;
♦ Heard a report by City Manager Nancy Brewer regarding an unexpected influx of water from the Santiam River going into the water intake and water treatment plant facility during the weekend of May 6-8. On Friday morning, water coming out of the reservoir ran at 3,080 cubic feet per second. By Saturday afternoon, it was running at over 13,400 cubic feet per second.
The Army Corps of Engineers released water from Foster Lake at a much higher rate than usual and did not notify the City of Lebanon to be prepared for this event. The incident came from a recent lawsuit by environmentalists regarding endangered fish populations. Read more about the lawsuit from The New Era at sweethomenews.com/story/2022/04/20/news/as-corps-follows-court-ruling-lake-levels-worry-county-parks/25660.html.
A crew worked all night Friday and through Saturday to clear debris of sand, gravel, rocks and trees that clogged the intake system and do some bypass pumping while monitoring water supply for the city. A dive team from Portland was called in on Sunday to finish clearing the system.
Brewer said the City will send a letter to the Corps about the situation and inform them how much it cost the city to fix the problem.