SHOREHAM - There's controversy brewing over the books at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham -- the budget books, that is.
A new state audit has found that the library had a surplus of between $2.1 million and $2.4 million every year from 2006 to 2012. The state comptroller called the surpluses "excessive" and said they were racked up without transparency, limiting local taxpayers' abilities to make budget decisions.
North Shore Library Director Laura Hawrey says the library feels it was being "prudent" by reserving the surplus funds for retirement, pensions and insurance. "It's money we have to use to fund our library until we get our property tax money, so that money is not a solid amount throughout the year," she adds.
The library is currently seeking more money from its community. Taxpayers are being asked to vote tomorrow on a 0.9 percent library tax increase, which amounts to about $4 more for the average taxpayer. Residents currently pay about $350 in library taxes.
The library's director acknowledged that going forward, it could do a better job of reporting budget numbers to keep the community informed.