Brentwood Library writes policy draft dictating use of Holt family $4 million donation

Brentwood Library writes policy draft dictating use of Holt family $4 million donation


The Brentwood Library has written a draft of a policy that would dictate how it can spend the $4.2 million donation from the Holt family.

The rough draft states that the Brentwood City Commission will control how the money is spent. It also requires the city to save about three quarters of the donation as an endowment.

The library’s board and Brentwood’s City Commission still need to formally approve the policy, which they will do at their May 9 meeting.

The donation came from a longtime Brentwood family. The Home Page previously reported that O’Delle Holt’s will gave the Brentwood Library a substantial sum of money. In return, the city changed the library’s name to honor her late husband, John P. Holt.

The city has placed the donation in a special fund, separate from the library’s normal budget. Assistant City Manager Jay Evans wrote out suggested language for the policy and members of the library board revised that text.

The draft of the policy says the library board must make recommendations about how to spend the money, but the City Commission will need to approve those recommendations.

It also specifies that 75 percent of the donation—just over $3 million—will remain intact. With this measure, the city can invest the money and use the returns for future projects at the library.

That leaves just over $1 million that the library can use for short term projects now.

The library can also use any of the money generated by investing the endowment. If the City Commission passes the policy, the library will ask the public for ideas about how to spend the money.

The policy requires the money to be spent on projects that would improve the library or the services it provides. The draft also says the library couldn’t use the money to fund projects that would require ongoing funding for more than four years. The money also cannot be spent on items that the city would normally pay for.    

Some members of the library board said they were concerned that saving 75 percent of the donation would make it hard to recommend ambitious projects.

However, board member Sarah Johnson argued that protecting the initial donation would pay off down the line by providing a source of income each year. She said the library could save up for big projects by setting aside the returns from the endowment.

The library board committee reviewing the policy decided to add a section that would allow the board to request amendments to the policy in the future. That would give the donation protection, but would also give the library the opportunity to ask for an exception if it wanted to take on a bigger project.     

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