A statement or indication that inspires confidence; a guarantee or pledge.
The New Hartford Public Library held their July meeting at noon in Butler Hall on July 17, 2013.
During the meeting, a discussion on reporting of circulation numbers turned to questions regarding the Annual Report for Public and Association Libraries that is supposed to be sent to Mid York and eventually filed with the State each year.
Trustee Wiatr inquired if the report came before the board prior to being submitted to Mid York and Anne DuRoss answered “no”. Discussion then ensued as to whether it should come before the library board prior to being filed with Mid York.
Board President/Attorney Linda Romano Petralia responded that it will be given to the board at the next meeting, but she felt it was not necessary to show it to the board prior to being filed. According to Attorney Romano, the report is “operational” there is no need for the board to approve the contents of the report prior to the filing.
Several board members agreed with Ms. Romano. We would venture a guess that most library trustees, including Attorney Romano-Petralia, have actually never read the report or know what it contains; yet, like cattle being lead to slaughter, they followed right along with what Ms. Romano said.
Board President/Attorney Linda Romano Petralia did eventually ask Anne DuRoss, who is temporarily filling in for retired Director Hans Plambeck, to check with other libraries to see what they do.
Here is the videotape of the board discussion:
We did a quick check of the internet and found a cached copy of the 2012 report in Google.
Toward the end of the report, on page 20, is the following:
According to the filed report, the answer to that question is that board reviewed the report on April 17, 2013.
12.41 The Library operated under its plan of service in accordance with the provisions of Education Law and the Regulations of the Commissioner, and assures that the "Annual Report" was reviewed and accepted by the Library Board on (date - mm/dd/yyyy). [emphasis added]
That is not a true statement. We videotaped the April meeting; the report was never even mentioned at the April 17, 2013 board meeting. Besides, in the video above Anne DuRoss states that the report did not come before the board prior to being sent to Mid York for filing with NYS. Since 2010, the report has never been presented for board approval and we suspect the same is true prior to 2010.
Obviously, the NYS Education Dept. feels that board review is necessary prior to the filing or they wouldn't have asked for assurance. Assurance would imply MUST not MAY, but only if you would like to review it with your board.
On page 2 and 3, the report asks:
1.42 For the fiscal reporting year (questions 1.6 and 1.7) was all or part of the library's budget either subject to a public vote(s) or from a previous appropriation(s) which was approved by public vote(s). Enter Y for Yes, N for No. If yes, please complete one record for each vote held. If no, go to question 1.44.The library report to the State says that there was no vote held during 2012 and marks questions 1-5 as N/A, not applicable.
1. Name of municipality or district holding the vote
2. Indicate the type of municipality or district holding the vote
3. Was this a Chapter 414 (Ed. Law §259.1.b)?
4. Dollar amount
5. Was the vote successful?
6. Date the vote was held (mm/dd/yyyy)
We seem to remember a vote in August of 2012 asking taxpayers to approve a school district library with a million dollar budget. How could the person(s) completing this report overlook that vote? Did they forget that the vote was defeated by 1,532 to 750?
Ask the majority of the members of this dysfunctional board what Trustee Wiatr has done to them and they will tell you that he asks too many questions. Is that the reasoning for the report not being presented to the board for approval prior to the filing? Time and time again library board actions prove that the questions clearly need to be asked of this library board and it's unfortunate that Trustee Wiatr seems to be the only one asking the questions.
According to the “Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board Member”, available from the NYS Education Department:
“One of the most important responsibilities of a trustee or board member is to ensure that financial resources are being used efficiently and effectively toward meeting the institution’s goals, in compliance with applicable law and regulation, and that its assets are properly safeguarded. The area of fiscal governance is one in which board members may feel the least qualified and rely entirely on the CEO for guidance.The NYS Education Dept. publication continues:
Trustees/board members should be cautious about relying completely on the guidance and judgment of the institution’s CEO and management. Members have ultimate responsibility for governance of the institution’s resources and their primary role of protecting the public interest. In monitoring the institution’s budget, board members should ask questions about the assumptions made in preparing the budget. What types of data are used to prepare the budget? How were estimates developed for such expenditures as payroll, supplies and materials, travel and conferences, capital outlays, etc.? Are accounting and/or management processes adequate to ensure accurate and reliable data? What will be accomplished by passing this budget? How will outcomes be measured, evaluated and reported? How will the board hold the CEO accountable for budget outcomes? How are variances from expectations handled?Trustee Wiatr appears to be doing exactly what the NYS Education Dept. expects of ALL trustees. It's puzzling as to why some of the trustees, who constantly profess to have the best interests of the library at heart, don't like Trustee Wiatr for doing exactly what the NYS Education Dept. requires of a trustee or board member.
Trustees/board members should also ask questions about the institutional year end financial statements. Inquire as to what they mean; what is the fiscal condition of the entity? If the auditors’ issued a management letter, request to review the letter.
Similar questions may be raised about other areas, such as the institution’s system of financial controls, processes employed to comply with applicable laws and regulations, accountability with performance results, etc. Board members should be aware of an institution’s internal control system. The existence of adequate systems of internal controls is also critical for the protection and oversight of the institution’s assets. Internal controls are systems to protect the assets of an organization, create reliable financial reporting, promote compliance with laws and regulations, and achieve effective and efficient operations. “