November 7, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 44

Library savings debated

To come fully under the umbrella of the Haines Borough as a department, the library has to close its private savings account. The problem is, that savings account holds more than $52,000, and people can’t seem to agree on whose coffers that money should go in.

 The nonprofit Friends of the Library thinks the money should go to them; borough staff thinks at least part of the $53,000 should go back to the borough, since some of that money is rolled over from borough allocations to the library over past years.

The library maintains the savings account is comprised of donations and grant money, not taxpayer dollars doled out to the library every year by the borough.

Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart disagrees. “I don’t think it’s correct to say most of that $52,000 is grants or donations,” she said.

Stuart said that is probably the case for about $20,000 in the account – composed of four $5,000 certificates of deposit – but a large chunk of the rest was likely leftover borough money and therefore should return to the borough.

In addition to assets (the savings account), the library also has $25,000 in liabilities that need to be handled before the library’s transition from component unit to department is complete.

During Tuesday’s finance committee meeting, assembly member Debra Schnabel said it would be unfair to ask the borough to pay the library’s liabilities but then let the Friends of the Library keep the assets.

“If that’s what is being asked, then I’m sorry, but I can’t support that,” Schnabel said.

 Instead, Schnabel suggested using the $53,000 in savings to pay off the liabilities, leaving about $27,000 for the Friends of the Library. In essence, transferring the equity.

  The finance committee directed staff to continue discussions with library director Patricia Brown and craft a budget amendment reflecting the $27,000 equity transfer.

            The issue of what to do with the savings account, which was opened in the 1980s, came to light when the borough recently decided to make the library a department instead of a component unit. The transition mainly has to do with accounting procedures and how the borough keeps its books.