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Queens Chronicle

Library is opening up its books to the comptroller

Capital spending Council hearing set

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 10:58 am, Thu May 1, 2014.

UPDATE:

Comptroller Scott Stringer's office, which could not immediately be reached for comment when this article was written, said Thursday upon seeing it that the library in fact has not turned over all the documents it has been asked for. Stringer spokesman Eric Sumberg issued this statement:

“The Queens Library has not provided the Comptroller’s Office with complete access to financial records that would shine a light on how the Library spends its money, most of which comes from the City.  To justify its refusal to provide its records, the Library has relied on a stipulation from the 1990s, forcing the Comptroller to seek a Court order to gain the disclosures needed to do a complete audit. Misinformation campaigns are not a replacement for opening the books.”

Expect a follow-up article in next week's Queens Chronicle and here at qchron.com.

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The Queens Library is now complying with City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s request for various financial documents that he had gone to court to seek, library spokeswoman Joanne King said Tuesday.

Another source familiar with the dispute confirmed the documents were being provided to the comptroller for his audit, which was sparked by revelations about library spending practices under President and CEO Tom Galante. The library chief has been criticized over his pay, office upgrades, outside job and more since the end of January.

King said Stringer didn’t need to go to court for the documents, though the library initially had not been willing to provide all that he sought.

“For the last 10 weeks, Queens Library staff have been actively working with the NYC Comptroller’s audit staff, following the same City audit guidelines used for decades,” King said in an email. “The Library is providing access to the Comptroller to all City funds as required. The Library is providing access to the Comptroller to the workers compensation fund and the book sales fund. Unfortunately, the Comptroller’s Office rushed into court when the library would have welcomed a meeting for the opportunity of an amicable solution.”

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who chairs the primary committee charged with library oversight, had backed Stringer during the dispute, his spokesman, Jason Banrey said.

“The councilman is extremely supportive of the comptroller’s efforts to get the library to open up the books for a full review of their financial records,” Banrey said in a Tuesday phone interview.

Van Bramer, who is also the majority leader, and Libraries Subcommittee Chairman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), have set a hearing on the capital spending of all three of the city’s library systems for 1 p.m. April 28, Banrey added.

Van Bramer also said in a statement that he is committed to restoring six-day library service and boosting arts funding in the next city budget, now under discussion.

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