Mayor Lewis Billings has backed off - for now - from his plan to replace three members of the library board.

The move had been attacked as an attempt to stack the board with his supporters.Billings on Tuesday night withdrew his motion to replace Chairwoman-elect Cindy Clark and board members John Chamberlain and JaNeal Miller.

"There was a feeling among some of the council and library board that the members not being reappointed should have been given more consideration," Billings said.

He said his move was intended to create diversity, not stifle criticism.

Clark, who has disagreed with Billings on funding issues, said the mayor's decision to remove her may have been legal but wasn't ethical.

Billings gave the council notice last Wednesday that he planned to replace Clark, Chamberlain and Miller, who were either at or near the end of their first three-year terms on the board, with Enoc Q. Flores, Darryl Alder and SueZann Kohler.

Clark and the board had disagreed with Billings over when to enact the library mill levy. Billings, who campaigned on an anti-tax increase platform, sought to delay it until next year, while Clark and other board members fought unsuccessfully to implement it this year to ease the library's financial woes.

Clark and Miller said they didn't find out they were being replaced until Monday, when they saw a meeting notice published in the newspaper that stated they had been replaced.

"I would have to admit it could have been handled better. I take responsibility for that," Billings said. He said the oversight occurred because of the holiday weekend and the need to review as many applicants as possible for board posts before Tuesday night's council meeting.

Clark said Billings' decision on the board appointments appears to be "a little suspect," given their disagreements over the tax increase.

"The mayor has every right to do that," Clark said. "It is not very ethical, but he has the right."

Billings said the differences regarding taxes were not the overriding factor in his decision. Instead, he said, he was seeking diversity on the board.

Councilwoman Shari Holweg said Billings wants to have a library board he can control, instead of retaining people who are looking out for the city's best interests.