BRASHER FALLS - A Brasher Falls resident is suggesting that the Massena Public Library may be looking to establish a branch library in Brasher Falls as a way to make up for a budget deficit.
But thats not the case, according to library officials, who said their fund balance can cover the deficit.
Elizabeth Demo, in a letter to library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer, with copies to Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray and Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson, suggested there were concerns about how closely the projected operating expenses of the branch library jive with the librarys deficit.
In looking at the 2013 town of Massena budget, the Massena Public Library expenses submitted were higher than proposed revenues causing a budget deficit of $55,000. How does this gap get closed? Ms. Demo wondered.
You have to admit that it does look suspicious that the Brasher Branch budget you proposed is $56,000. You could see how people would interpret the motivation of getting the Brasher Branch wold be to cover the Massena Branch deficit, she suggested.
But, in her response to Ms. Demo, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said that wasnt the case.
You correctly indicated in your letter that there is currently a shortfall on the revenue side of the proposed budget. Let me assure you that any budget shortfall will be covered by the librarys fund balance. Due to careful stewardship on the part of library staff and board, past and present, the library has a healthy fund balance and has been able to meet its financial demands, she wrote.
Massena Public Library has proudly served the Massena community for 80 years. The library has never resorted to balancing its budget, as you suggested, by misappropriating funds from our neighboring communities. I must disagree with you. I dont believe the general public feels that Massena is motivated to open a branch in Brasher Falls in order to siphon funds from the branch to support the main library. Your implication is insulting to the staff and board of the Massena Public Library and to the Massena Town Board and its taxpayers, Ms. Dunne-Thayer wrote.
She invited Ms. Demo to attend a recent budget session with the Massena Town Board rather than make false and malicious assumptions through misinformation.
Ms. Demo also wondered if the proposal to establish a branch library in Brasher Falls was approved by voters on Nov. 5, Brasher tax money would eventually be used to reimburse the Friends of the Massena Public Library for expenses they incurred relating to the Brasher branch. She cited an ice cream social held over the summer as well as current radio advertising.
Ms. Dunne-Thayer, in her letter, said the Friends of the Library were not looking for reimbursement.
In February 2013, the Massena Public Library board was asked by the North Country Library System to sponsor a library branch in Brasher Falls. After much deliberation, the board agreed to sponsor the branch with the understanding that Massena taxpayer dollars would not be used to promote or fund the branch, she said.
The Massena Friends of the Library generously donated the funds to market the branch project to the residents of Brasher Falls. After further consultation with the group the decision was made by the Friends of the Library to fund the campaign without expectation of reimbursement, regardless of the election results, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.
The Friends of the Library are an essential organization to the Massena Public Library. Its members work tirelessly through the donation of time and fundraising to expand library use and literacy to our entire service area. If a library branch is established, we hope a Brasher Falls Friends of the Library group will be formed to assist the branch with fundraising, the library director said.
Ms. Demo also questioned how the librarys actual and budget financial information would be communicated to Brasher residents each year and wondered if Brasher voters would be able to view actual and budget financial statements representing the revenue and expense for the Brasher branch.
Ms. Dunne-Thayer extended an invitation for interested community members to attend the monthly meeting of the librarys Board of Directors.
The board discusses all library issues, including the budget, and the monthly bills and balance sheet are presented to the board for their approval at the meeting, she said. If the Brasher referendum should pass, a Brasher Falls Branch Advisory Board will be established to work in conjunction with the Massena Public Library Board.
Ms. Dunne-Thayer said the town of Brasher would retain the funds earmarked for the library branch, and she encouraged interested residents to become involved with their branch by joining the Advisory Board or attending meetings of the Brasher Falls Branch Advisory Board or the Massena Public Librarys Board of Trustees.
The bills will be reviewed and audited by the Brasher Falls Advisory Board and the Massena Public Library Board. Once approval has been given, the bills will be submitted to the Brasher Town Board for review and payment, she said.
She noted that bills will be paid by the Brasher Town Board after a review process by the library director and the Massena Public Librarys Board of Directors.
Therefore Brasher would have full custody of the funds designated for their branch at all times. The library board and I agree with you that the Brasher taxpayers certainly deserve full disclosure of how their tax money is being spend, and we feel the above process would provide them with the transparency you seek, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.