The Observer Dispatch has included an article in their November 30, 2012 newspaper, New Hartford Library to present budget Tuesday.
In response to that article, Trustee Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr. asked us to include his remarks below in our blog:
Perhaps you have already read on this blog that an analysis of the New Hartford Public Library circulation reports that the library director submits to the library board each month clearly indicates that the New Hartford Public Library patron requests for all media (books, cds, dvds, videos, magazines, etc.) has plummeted significantly over the past two (2) years.
This library board accepted (as correct) library circulation data which (upon a closer review) performed by this Trustee becomes suspect. Further, the circulation stats provided to the State Education Department in the Annual Report required by all public libraries are inflated when compared to the monthly reports provided to the library board by the Library Director each month.
My review of several of the circulation reports clearly illustrated that circulation has DECREASED between 55% - 65% each month for 2012. This was on the "heels" of a 20-25% decrease reflected in 2011 circulation stats. It was especially disconcerting when finding out that circulation stats for both the back and front door foot traffic which is also part of the Library Director's monthly report have been whited out prior to distribution to the library board for some obscure reason - yet to be determined.
The large reductions in circulation and lack of accountability for statistics regarding walk-in traffic should automatically trigger the need for careful analysis and restructuring of the current library staffing patterns along with possibly reducing the number of library staff needed. Yet, no such analysis is planned until AFTER the budget has been approved by the library board. The budget also assumes that the library director’s salary will increase from $48,000 to $60,000 in October 2013.
Trustees have an obligation not only to the library, but they also are obligated to the town residents/taxpayers who expect us to carefully monitor how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
On Wednesday evening, this library trustee (with less than one hour given to discuss) was asked to support a 2013 budget of $500,450. The budget was not prepared by the Budget Committee after a careful review of supporting documentation, but rather by one member of the committee who stated that he met with Earl Cunningham and several key library employees to prepare the 2013 budget. To the best of my knowledge, there were no members of the Budget Committee in attendance or invited to attend.
As a trustee who takes his fiduciary responsibilities very seriously, I will not and cannot support the proposed 2013 library budget until and unless it is VALIDATED by a careful review of records to include an analysis of past expenses.
Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr., Trustee NHPL - Chairman - Information Technology & Transparency & Member of the NHPL Finance Committee 315-525-4251
It reminded us of the $1,000,000 budget presented to the NHCSD taxpayers last August where we later find out in FOILed emails that at least two (2) members of the board felt that $1,000,000 was too much yet they still presented their "wish-list" budget to the public with no real justification for the budget numbers.
After Wednesday's Budget Committee meeting, emails began flying back and forth. At least one other member of the committee was not pleased with the process. Here are three (3) of the emails that flew across our desk today; two from Mr. Cerminaro to the Budget Committee and town board in answer to the third email sent out by Mr. Evans.
We intend to post the video of Wednesday's Budget Committee meeting online later today.