CLOSE

Raised voices changed the standard whispers at Cincinnati’s library Tuesday morning as accusations of conflicts of curiosity and secret offers have been hurled at library trustees.
The Enquirer/Cameron Knight

Hamilton County commissioners need solutions from the library board, and Monday they hope to get them.

Hamilton County Fee President Todd Portune referred to as the library board’s lack of transparency concerning the destiny of its north constructing “disturbing,” and summoned the board to the subsequent fee assembly.

In June, the board of trustees for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County voted to pull public services from the five-story, 132,500-square-foot north building. The library contracted with the Cincinnati Central City Development Corp. (3CDC) to explore whether to sell, lease or repurpose the building. 

“There was no public discussion allowed on the topic before the board made the decision that they did,” Portune said at Wednesday’s meeting. “That’s disturbing. When it comes to how they do business, our expectation…is that they would do business in an open and public manner.”

The north building cost nearly $40 million to complete in 1997. A July assessment of the building valued it at $8.48 million.

The board said a study revealed that all the public services currently provided in the north building could be housed in the south building, offering reduced security and maintenance costs.  Trustees also said declining state funding and a $54 million building plan mean the money is needed.

Portune said the library board not only failed to engage the public before their decision, but also didn’t run it by the commissioners.

“I would certainly have expected the members of the board that we appointed to have consulted us before they made a decision…of that magnitude,” he said.

His comments came after a number of speakers brought the issue up at the commissioner’s Wednesday meeting. Many of the speakers were same people who demonstrated outside the library and scolded the board at their meeting in August.

The group has loosely organized as the “Our Library, Our Decision! Campaign.” They have a discussion…