The Mamaroneck Library is running out of cash and will be forced to shut its doors June 1 if it does not receive a $300,000 emergency loan, Ellen Freeman, President of the Library Board of Trustees told Village of Mamaroneck officials Monday night, confirming the Loop’s reports of the library’s financial troubles.
Freeman and the Library’s Executive Director, Jennifer O’Neill, revealed that the library finances are in such dire shape that they have stopped purchasing books and periodicals. The $300,000 would only keep the library open through the summer. A total of $1.4 million is needed to stay open through June 2024 say library leaders.
Freeman blamed the library’s business manager Mary Soto, a longtime library employee, for the unraveling finances, saying the discovery of misappropriating funds was uncovered in January.
“We felt our entire community was betrayed,” Freeman said. “Our audited statements and actual fund balances did not match the numbers the board received each month. Checks for payments of services we thought were cashed were stashed in a drawer. The board built our next year’s budget on bad information. We were told we had a lot more in our accounts than we actually did.”
Freeman explained that the library informed police after “the board received preliminary information from the (forensic) accounting firm showing misappropriation of funds and a many number of questionable expenditures.” Soto resigned March 22 and a criminal investigation is underway.
A somber tone enveloped the hall as the enormity of the library’s pending failure was realized and village officials wrestle with a way to save it. “I think we have to know what we can do realistically…we all think the library is important to our community so it’s not a matter of will we help but how we can help,” said Village Trustee Nora Lucas.
Finding a solution will not be easy as “I am not aware of any authority in which the Village can simply lend money to the library,” said Village of Mamaroneck Attorney Robert Spolzino.
Mayor Thomas Murphy instructed the village attorney and clerk to investigate other “mechanisms” such as issuing “a tax anticipation note on behalf of the library.”