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.”
I am wondering what has happened to the employees responsible. Were they charged? Arrested? Jailed? Where is the money???
I hope that the director under who’s watch this happened, who is a full time paid employee, has agreed temporarily to forgo her salary as a first step toward closing the gap. The responsibility ultimately lies with her and her oversight of her departments. One cannot be library director, yet claim total ignorance of the library’s finances and the materials her staff submitted to the Board.
The Board of Directors is a volunteer board who are ultimately monitoring the course chartered by the Director and the staff she oversees.
Who is providing guidance to the Library Board about potential options to keep the library doors open in the short term? I hope not just the current Director.
While the prior comments are correct-those in charge must be held responsible for the theft-the bigger issue is keeping the library open. Free speech (books, newspapers, TV) is paramount, STOP the criticism, save the library. Bob.
I think the Director and the Board should resign ,I am willing to give a donation but not if the same people are in charge . We need a fresh start with financial oversights in place .
The library director and board president made it sound as if the library would have to close its doors forever. They had no outline for plan like the temporary reduction of hours, part-time hourly cuts etc. They are trying to place the blame solely in one person’s lap and blaming past boards and dorectors without taking any responsibility that they too had a hand in this nightmare.
Clayton Otto had beem voted off the board in the 2017-2018 and after the past board president resigned her post after 2 terms, the board actually decided amongst themselves to reinstate Otto that June as treasurer, even though the VOM taxpayers had voted him off in the December election.
So there is that…
Sorry Ellen, but the bottom line is that the Board is as much responsible for the library’s accounting methods as Mary Soto and Otto. When it comes to verifying ALL expenses, deposits, matching/examining bank statements, reviewing the monthly financial reports against actual cash-on-hand, it all falls on the Board and your Director. You are operating a business….nothing is personal. BUT you were all lulled into trusting a long-time, dedicated employee…. BIG MISTAKE, and lesson learned. Moving forward, please re-think how to professionally operate this business with tax payers’ money. We wish you and everyone our very best.