The Queens Library has not yet turned over all documents the city comptroller is seeking for an audit, despite what the Queens Chronicle reported last week based on a public statement and information from a source familiar with the tug of war between the two.
The library, which has been under fire since late January for its spending and operations under President Tom Galante, and is the subject of both city and federal criminal probes, is refusing to hand over some records the comptroller seeks because in the 1990s, it reached an agreement with then-Comptroller Alan Hevesi that said it would not have to provide them.
The agreement, which Hevesi said would also bind future comptrollers, said the library would only have to provide records of how it spends city funds. Those account for about 80 percent of its operating budget, with the rest made up by the state and federal governments and private donors.
Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office criticized the library after last week’s Chronicle story. “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,” Stringer spokesman Eric Sumberg said in an email. “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.”
“I certainly am not attempting to give you misinformation,” library spokeswoman Joanne King told the Chronicle in response. King had not actually said the library was providing all documents last week but did not say it was still withholding some either. She said that if the comptroller wants more than the agreement allows, he would have to go to court to vacate it, as his office has.
Stringer maintains that he is legally entitled to all the records he is seeking as the city’s chief fiscal steward under its charter.