By Kathy Savolt -
Ellen Freeman, President of the Library Board, and Ellen Hauptman, new Board member, gave an update to the Village Board of Trustees at their Work Session on Monday evening.
Freeman began by describing the presentation as a status update to the community and vowed such updates will continue. She reiterated that both the forensic audit and criminal investigation were ongoing, and she cannot say anything that might jeopardize this continuing work. At this point Freeman said the Library Board believes that misappropriation and theft are part of the story, but the bigger part was the misinformation upon which the Board relied when making financial decisions.
Freeman admitted that the Board could have done a better job with oversight of the Library’s finances. She conceded that the Board relied too much on a 27-year employee. She vowed to do better in the future and apologized to the community.
Ellen Hauptman is chairing the newly formed Library Budget Committee. She stated that the Library Board knows they have to gain the community’s trust and rebuild confidence. Hauptman, a member of the Village Budget Committee and former volunteer for other Village committees, clearly has the confidence of the Village staff. Clerk-Treasurer Agostino Fusco said he felt better knowing she was involved.
Hauptman listed the financial goals for the Library: 1. Have a balanced budget, 2. Repay the Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) and 3. Have at least three months of cash in the bank.
The Library Budget Committee has been hard at work reviewing the 2023-24 budget which takes effect on June 1. They identified $286K in spending cuts in addition to the $243K the Board had already found. Despite these cuts, there is still a deficit before using the TAN funds. The Committee continues their work with Hauptman stating, “Nothing is off the table.”
Financial controls have been reviewed with some tightened and new ones added. Recommendations will be made to the full Library Board at their next meeting (Wednesday, May 24) and implemented immediately after. These recommendations were made with input from the Library’s auditors, Village financial staff and the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
Financial reviews by the Library Board have also been revamped. Now, at every meeting the Board will review bank statements, bank reconciliations, Income and Expenses vs. Budget, and an Audit of the Bills, with documentation.
Other changes have been made to credit card usage (approved in advance with cards under lock and key), overtime, and petty cash.
Hauptman explained that the Budget Committee analyzed three high level scenarios, all assuming the tax rate would be locked in at the 6% increase from the 2023-24 budget. They tweaked different expense reduction scenarios to determine when the Library would meet their three financial goals and the answer was 2027-28. Modest increases in the tax rate did not change the outcome enough to consider them.
Hauptman also mentioned that the Library’s website will soon have a new Finance tab for all financial reports and Status Updates. Additionally, the Library Board meeting schedule will be posted, along with supporting documentation and minutes.
The next Library Board meeting is Wednesday, May 24 at 7:45 pm.The meeting is subject to the NYS Open Meetings Law and the public is encouraged to attend.