Checks and balances
December 19, 2011
The “circle the wagons” mentality of the Basalt Regional Library board (“Pitkin County scrutinizes budget for Basalt library,” Dec. 7, The Aspen Times) is not serving the library district and patrons. Some members of the board seem annoyed that residents are concerned about the library operation, finances and the functioning of the board itself.
As public trustees with fiduciary responsibilities, they should welcome public involvement. This “very small, vocal group” is not very small at all. Thirty to 40 people have taken the time to attend board meetings. Anyone in a business or service industry knows that if you receive one complaint, there are probably 10 other people who felt the same way but just did not express it. That one complaint is very valuable and needs to be taken seriously. It should start a re-examination of the business practices that led to the complaint.
Because board member Taylor Liebmann is an accountant, he feels particularly qualified concerning the library district’s finances. Accountants’ concerns mostly focus on whether the books balance or not. Making books balance is not difficult, especially with Quickbooks, which I understand is used by the library, in which entries can be modified without leaving a trail.
An attentive high school student can be taught to read balance sheets in an afternoon, so hopefully the rest of the library board has taken the time to become familiar with them. Did accountants look at Boogie’s books and Anderson Ranch’s books, and if so, why did embezzlement occur?
Further, Liebmann feels confident that there has been no misuse of library funds because he took a small sample of the credit-card expenses and verified those particular expenditures were appropriate. My guess is that he examined no more than 1 percent of said expenditures, resulting in a probability of no more than 1 percent in which he would find a misuse of funds. I am not aware of a misuse of library funds and have no reason to believe there has been any. But if there has been, it is not likely his examination would have revealed it. Even a very small misuse of funds would be a breach of trust.
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