>Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, earlier today posted the following update on the issue of Library Reserve funds on the main page of the Middletown Township Library’s website:
The Library “giveback” issue is now so full of rumors that it is difficult to know where to begin. One of the troubling issues is that some are casting the library as uncooperative. Not true.
So, I’ll start with last year, when members of the Township Committee, Pam Brightbill and Sean Byrnes came to library board meetings and asked the Trustees to consider giving some of its reserves to the town. The Trustees listened, and made a quick response to sponsor one of the summer concerts of the Parks & Recreation Department. We followed up with a letter to the Mayor [dated June 10,2010] indicating the Board’s willingness to provide some assistance, and asked four questions which were germane to the Board’s deliberations. There was no response to the letter [which we will post on this website] These questions were not answered by August, when Mayor Scharfenberger attended the library board meeting, and he was asked again for a response. None followed, and the library pressed on in memos and finally, in November, a meeting was held with Library Trustees, Mr. Mercantante and Mr. Trascente. But questions of the Board were not completely answered. In fact, the inability of the library to get any reconciliation of the small budget surplus of 2008 and 2009 kept our 2010 budget in flux for the entire year. And, without the information it asked for, the Trustees could not make an informed decision about making a contribution to help the Township.
So now we get to late 2010, and the law on libraries returning some surpluses changes from libraries “may” return surpluses to “must” return surpluses that are not restricted for capital projects, or are from per capita state aid funds. Immediately, the request turned into a demand, and for much much more than the law would allow. By the library’s calculations of the official “Proposed Transfer Form” of monies, the Middletown Library has $262,453 in funds which must be returned.
The Trustees of the Library are negotiating in good faith with the Township on this matter and will do what they are able to do legally.
Susan O’Neal, Director
p.s. By the way, the NJ State Library has informed us that ALL of the dozen or so libraries that have given back funds to their municipalities have followed the procedures outlined in the law. The MTPL will do the same.