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NRPL Board Of Trustees Resolve Apparent Accounting Discprepancy And Define Enhanced Procedures

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NRPL Board Of Trustees Resolve Apparent Accounting Discprepancy And Define Enhanced Procedures

January 28, 2012 - 22:05
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NRPLBoardMeetingThe Board of Trustees of the New Rochelle Public Library issued a public statement today on their 7-month long investigation into Accounting Discrepancies first reported by Talk of the Sound last June.

After an investigation of the library’s financial records and those maintained by the City School District Treasurer, the New Rochelle Public Library Board of Trustees has determined that the apparent accounting discrepancy that was brought to the attention of the Board in June 2011 was due to an inconsistency in the designation and reporting of “restricted funds” versus “assigned funds” in the library’s Fund Balance. The cash shortfall was primarily solved by transferring funds owed by the Capital Fund to the General Fund in July 2011.

To prevent future accounting discrepancies the Board has taken the following measures:

  • Reorganized internal staff to incorporate the internal controls necessary to prevent such a problem in the future (see link to Anthony Maraglino story below).
  • Designated board members with professional financial and accounting experience to oversee the budget process.
  • Engaged with the School District Treasurer, to ensure better communication and coordination.

When the financial discrepancy was first discovered in June, the Board of Trustees also took measures to reduce the library’s 2011-2012 Budget to prepare for any possible deficits. This action and due diligence in cost-effective library operations has resulted in fiscal abilities to safeguard for any future shortfalls, including those created by the annual calendar lapse in the Temporary Anticipation Note (TAN) funding.

This statement differs from the original belief of the board that there had been cumulative accounting irregularities. In a statement issued in June, 2011, the NRPL Board stated:

Our research suggests that accounting irregularities leading to the misstatement of our fund balance were likely occurring over a number years resulting in an over-reporting of the existing cash balance in the range of $300,000.

The genesis for the confusion is that the New Rochelle Public Library relies on the City School District of New Rochelle for treasury services and audited financials. No money was ever missing and the only "error" was in library staff and trustees not fully understanding how the school district accounts for the library balance sheet in its financials.

The board has added two members over the past year, Bo Kemp and Bernardo Nunez, that have strong backgrounds in financial accounting.

RELATED:

New Rochelle Public Library Discloses Financial Mismanagement

New Rochelle Public Library "Unexpectedly Resigns" Operations Manager Anthony Maraglino in Wake of $300,000 Financial Error

EDITOR'S NOTE: The New Rochelle Public Library has been not just forthcoming and transparent in identifying and resolving the accounting issues but proactive in keeping the public informed along the way. Their commitment to open government principles stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful conduct of the New Rochelle Board of Education which is this very weekend holed up in secret meetings at an "undisclosed location" where they are illegally discussing the school budget, tax increases and other public business that is required to be discussed only within the context of a public meeting.

There are 11 Comments

It sounds like the Trustees going back to Thomas Leghorn set a pattern of spending that created this problem. The board of Trustees back then was very critical of any citizen input. This is typical of certain groups in New Rochelle. Common sense and honesty should always be important, not fooling the public.

I applaud the library’s transparency but the person responsible for this mess, Mr. Thomas Clump-Leghorn, was also designated as having a “strong financial background” so why should we believe this won’t happen again? Once again this reveals the realization of Bramson flunkies being appointed to positions they are not qualified to hold. The only saving grace is that Greg Varian is a straight shooter but who knows what will happen when he leaves. Idoni, Korn and Bramson forced the library tax down taxpayers throats much like the garbage fee and we will pay for eternity.

I am happy that this situation is resolved. I think we can and should accept subsequent comments regarding both disposition and future monitoring.

We are looking at people of quality involved here; Varian, Leghorn, etc. and there is no reason to think otherwise. In addition, I cannot believe that this sort of situation displays the "Bramson brand." I continue to believe Noam is not what some paint him to be. He has issues; mostly those of omission, not commission and failure to embrace the entire community in a way that satisfies inclusivity. It is a common ailment in these days and for most of recorded time, a shortcoming shared by youth, not seasoned and experienced leaders. Legends of Greek philosopher such as Socrates, especially Plato, would subscribe to the view of not investing too much trust in younger people as their "humours" and passion run deep.

From an accouting viewpoint, this type of issue is not uncommon and very correctible using proper control and monitoring techniques.

Again, Bob Cox has uncovered a flaw and has my thanks. I encourage my co-correspondents on TOTS to look at the larger issue around fees, creation of separate funding for libraries, etc. and put together a flow of what it is, how it is warranted in terms of NYS law, and whether it should be subject to change given community sentiment.

You can understand the Library funding from a simple viewpoint that matters such as library sustaining, parks, recreation, etc. are often the first to go in a tight budget. It does not mean it should be separate and apart. The same holds for the School District. It would be interesting to hear from Ron Tocci, who was instrumental in legislation for both school district and library matters, to see precisely what was enacted into law and what was not. That becomes a matter then for our current legislators to consider if that becomes the case.

Initially, I do not think Ron's law in the late 1980s prohibited the City for accepting responsiblity or at least some formal accountability for school funding and budgets. I believe it dealt with empowering the community to vote both on budgets and board membership.

I am not too sure of the above, thus the interest in returning to the source. What I am sure of is that Theresa Crump Leghorn took a battering on Pulse which isn't warranted.

Warren, with all due respect, Leghorn was one of Idoni’s hand picked soldiers to carry the water to remove library funding from the very document (city charter) you espouse returning to. Noam was part of the cabal that forced THREE separate library votes. The first vote defeated the proposed library tax by a 2 to 1 landslide. The citizens didn’t speak, they SHOUTED and Korn, Idoni, Bramson and company listened with their deaf ears.

You further claim Noam is “guilty” of not being inclusive due to “a shortcoming shared by youth, not seasoned and experienced leaders”. While Noam may be young, after TWENTY YEARS on the council you cannot describe Noam as an unseasoned and inexperienced politician. You have spoken with Noam multiple times and raised your concerns and offered constructive criticism now you must take Noam’s training wheels off and see him for what he is, the most partisan of partisans and a career politician. Do you believe a standup person would send a personal attack mailer and refuse to identify himself as the initiator? That’s exactly what Noam did this last election cycle and it was totally unnecessary since his opponent never had a chance. Noam knew St. Paul didn’t have a shot in the dark yet he continued to have his lackeys send private emails to north end neighbors while authorizing hate mail delving into a candidate’s personal life. That is commission! These are the same people who defended Slick Willy who never had sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky but admitted giving her one on one lessons on inhaling cigars. Willy’s only problem was a dribble.

Your insight is keen and I for one appreciate your courage but please don’t defend someone who is fully capable of standing on his own two feet but chooses to sling mud. To quote Noam, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!

Wise counsel as always. Here is my issue and I readily admit both that I could be mistaken and that I have not been witness to much of the history you cite so completely.

I accept your history on the Library in terms of the facts you cite except I have no way of personally acceptiing the role of any non office holder. I don't question your knowledge of the situation given that --- I would like to see some way of settling the library dispute. I know factually that libraries are a ripe source of funding cutting and would prefer not to see that, but personally I am not opposed to any action short of eliminating or reducing basic community services that deal with basic security, safety, etc.

Old Timer, you said yourself that my posts appear to be reasonable and critical of admininstration policy and practice. They are and I have not had a word with Noam since I began to question some basic issues that I hold critical in city management.

Concerning his presence in terms of what has taken place over the past close to two decades, he has played a major political role in such actions and until this day has not fulfilled the Code requirements invested in him as well as not demonstrating sufficient knowledge or at least allowing for basic actions to be supported and implemented on planning, organizing, and control. This is clear and these are foremost errors of omission and less commission.

So, you may be 100% correct on his playing a dishonest hand. But, I need to see it or sense that it is more than inexperience and prideful action. Until then, I simply have to be as non-judgmental as possible and work towards a better managed and more inclusive city.

My disappointment is heightened by the fact that few, if any in the community and government know more than I do on the management process. That is not boasting, it is fact and I have offered my services to the Administration in the past. But, I have also offered my services to community leaders in the critic or skeptic group around the new so-called community task force in planning, budget, etc. I have a tried and tested approach I developed years earlier and no takers.

So, it appears that I lack users in and out of government so I will continue to offer them while posting viewpoints.

If there is a bright spot tonight, it is that we are a lot closer than you may think on matters. Time will tell.

Warren, if you "have no way of personally acceptiing the role of any non office holder" how can you expect fair and open dialouge here? Nearly everyone here is a "non office holder" and that is the point. We are the middle class who always gets dumped on and now have a venue to express opinion and common sense. The fact that we are non office holders means we see the world the way it is; as we live it everyday. You refuse to see Noam for what he is thus, in my opinion, you skew to a certain extent your opinion. Noam may be educated but he has no street sense, no real survival instincts except political instincts. If Noam were in your company and ran the New Rochelle divison for 20-years and in his state of the division address said we still have a long way to go would he be promoted or terminated?

We have a beautiful shyline but at what cost? We have people with dispoable income who spend it elsewhere. Now Noam wants to continue his failed transit oriented development to Echo Bay, New Rochelle's last chance at survival and Noam championed another 60-day extension for Forest City who at this point couldn't development a little league ballpark.

I value your non office holder opinion and if more office holders valued our opinions and were open to constructive criticism maybe we could turn New Rochelle around. Noam has proven time & time again to be a my way or the highway politician. Why is the city yard a more pressing issue today than it was in Decenber? It's not but Noam now has a super-majority to bond so it comes to the forefront. People correctly say interest rates are at historic lows but have they dropped significantlly since December? Bonding is in our immediate future and a community that takes on additional debt when it relies on terminating first resonders to balance their budget is misguided to say the least. In fact they are out of their minds. Would you borrow money if you couldn't afford the basic necessities in your personal life? How would you expect to repay? How would you expect to avoid bankruptcy? The system if funamentally broke and the first step of admission is lost on career politicians.

What are the rates of our bonds? Do you or anyone know?

If we issued the $14 million of bonds the mayor wants for Echo Bay, what would be the rate? I bet between 3-4%, but does anyone know?

So after pulling out my amortization schedule, I see a $14 million loan at 3.5% over 20 years will cost $974,328.00 per year which is $81,194 per month. Can New Rochelle afford that?

I didn't see any spare money in last years budget, but I did see a 10+% tax increase and fear we could face 10+% increases for years to come if the city moves or renovates the city yard.

We should quick this now as it is going nowhere. I don't think I am making my points successfully with you. This is mostly pollitics and not much else. You have viewpoints that differ considerably from those in office. You place Noam at the center of things based on his holding office as a Council Member and then, Mayor. Fair enough from the viewpoint that these are your facts. My experience tells me that with very, very few exceptions this describes politics and indicates why I hold my views as I do. And, you misunderstand what I say about the role of the community and let me try one final time.

1. The democratic party is the power in office. They have an agenda, a relatively safe majority and that will likely be difficult to move.

2. They have been guilty of clearly ignoring the City Code among other matters. So has the GOP by not taking up this point. This is something that has been going on for quite a time.

3. With very few exceptions the community has been either apathetic or simply serving as critics or skeptics. There are very, very few explicit actions that go beyond simply complaining. But, happily Mayo has produced something, shortly you will hear about a small group of commercial business people steppiing up to the plate. Bob Cox has put it out there, Jim Killoran, and very few others.

4. I have offered an Assessment approach to all heads of neighborhood associations which would openly and professionally involve any citizen into freely identifying where and what the strengths, weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats faced by New Rochelle now (as well as those ignored for so long). It is the same step as a doctor would take before diagnosing what is wrong with a patient; in short, you diagnose before you prescribe (goals, objectives, etc) what you will do for the City.

5. I have offered many constructive steps to make this a better City without accusing anyone of any violation of law, malfeasance, etc.... solely inadequate management, overcontrol, not managing to code, so many more examples of commission, less of omission. Read my many, many postings.

6. The people who have the real power by City Charter and Code are City Councilmenbers. I recognize minority vs majority yet, both sides of the aisle have failed to bring up the most important issues, and the minority has erred in not establishing a record on file (vote during public council meetings) so the public can see what is wrong.

7. Council meetings are circle jerks by and large. Little is accomplished. Bramson has assumed power because he has not been challenged properly and got a ruling by the City Attorney regarding Code Articles X and XII. Think Steve Mayo would force this ruling to be made public.

8. I honestly believe Noam is not anything approaching a thief, robber, miscreant, or anything else of that sort. He is a young man and it is meaningless in terms of my training and belief that he has been in City Government for close to two decades. He is a product of a system that has never been put to the proper test. He has all of the failings Plato warned us against in terms of "hubris" which is an affliction of those with insufficient years and proper experience to govern. Plato says 40 is the age, it is arguable, but what is not arguable by anyone is that Noam has no signficant profit and loss experience, no actual hands on experience in the management process. In sum, he is product of the machine.

9. Were St Paul, Trangucci, or Tarantino elected, they would be part of the machine as well, although I see some possibility for change.

10. Lastly, when we discuss matters, they are done with dignity, respect and intelligence. We need this in the City and all the posting and reminiscence of the past means nothing if we cannot profit from the past and use it to concentrate on the future.

Old Timer, I like your ability to fight for what is right and proper, Let me quote two different men with different wordly outlooks. The first, the famous author William Faulkner. He said and echoed Plato by saying.... "Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other." What he simply meant is that ideologues, people with highly inelastic opinion mistake the truth for their facts. Truth is elusive and we do not see it often in City Government or probably by we the critics and skeptis as well.

The second was a description of the secular world as seen by the eminent Belgian theologian Henri Nouwein who has been a major influence in my life this year. Father Nouwein said. "for me it is amazing to experience daily the radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes.'

There is much more, but he described me perfectly. So, Old Timer, perhaps you can see why I try, try very hard to see light in Noam and in the Council although that may be hard to find. But, if it is there and I truly think it is, it will be reflected by the community, not by politicial figures trying to hold onto a job. It is difficult to blame people for trying to hold onto a job, but service and stewardship trump ambition and selfishness. I want, hope and expect Noam and each councilmember to find that and I will hold their feet compassionately to the fire.

If this explains lets just keep on the road for change. As alway appreciate your posting.

Warren, is it nothing we argue about because you deem it so? Spoken like a true Noam minion. You have labeled me a cynic for having a different opinion much like Noam & Strome who labeled people you claim to admire, Peggy Godfrey for one, as CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) people because they have differing opinions. And you deem yourself superior to decide what is or isn’t worthy of debate. By the way, fact represents what is, so it is truth whether you agree, like it or not and no novel you post can change that.

I still value your opinion but I now realize exactly where it comes from and will probably choose to avoid banging my head against a wall in the future by submitting comment as opposed to reply. Be well.

I see Noam as a political animal(I hate the term) who is desperate. He should have moved on in his career. He needs something on his resume so that the county, Albany or Washington takes notice. This has not happened and as a result New Rochelle has suffered. We are spending too much time trying to figure out why he is doing what he is doing. The time has come to put that aside and speak out. If enough people speak out about their concerns and offer their solutions, he has to listen. Citizen participation is the answer. I know I have given up at times, but this is my city and if I do not do something I have myself to blame. We should demand across the board representation because we all know that committees have been loaded and orchestrated, therefore, the outcome is decided before it begins..

i fully agree with a slogan like. "Reach Out Across the Board." It must apply in and out of government and throughout the community. God Bless Old Timer, Knitter, and all others.

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