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Hartselle wants Friends of the Library’s financial info

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Do you know how much money the Friends of the Library has raised and where the civic group has spent the funds?

If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Neither does the City Council.

But that may change.

While not implying that anything inappropriate is happening, the city’s auditing firm recommended that Hartselle require civic organizations using public property to provide the council with financial statements.

This includes the Hartselle Beautification Association and Friends of the Library.

The city received financial information from HBA.

“As far as I know, we have not received anything from Friends of the Library,” Mayor Dwight Tankersley said. “At least, we have not gotten anything since I’ve been mayor.”

Friends, which is incorporated as a nonprofit organization, uses a room in the William Bradford Huie Library of Hartselle to sell used books.

Council members said the only thing they know about the organization’s finances is what Friends of the Library member Carolyn Halford told them in July 2006.

While voicing her opposition to the council renaming the library after Huie, Halford said the friends spent more than $13,000 when Hartselle left the Wheeler Basin Regional Library system.

“We intend to do what the auditors have recommended,” Tankersley said.

Halford did not return calls from The Daily. Librarian Emily Love, who is a city employee, was out of town at a conference.

Cindi Roberts, who is chairwoman of the five-member library board the council appoints, said she knows nothing about the Friends’ financial operations.

“They take care of all of that,” Roberts said.

Other audits

This is not the first time that auditors recommended city leaders acquire financial information about auxiliary organizations.

Tucker, Scott and Wates concluded in 2005 that Cemetery Board money is public funds and those funds should be included as part of Hartselle’s audit.

“Because the city has responsibility for these funds, the city should be carefully monitoring these funds,” Darrell Wates wrote in a June 28, 2005, letter to the mayor.

Following the recommendation, the council voted in September 2005 to change how Cemetery Board funds were handled.

The Cemetery Board had about $165,000 in an account. The council created a perpetual care fund for the cemetery, but the funds are now included in the city’s audit.

Unlike the Cemetery Board, the audit is not recommending the council take control of the Friends of the Library checkbook.

“And we have no intentions of doing that,” Tankersley said. “All we’re going to do is ask them to provide us with a financial statement.”

In addition to HBA and Friends of the Library, auditors said the city should require non-profit organizations receiving public money to provide financial statements.

Providing the financial information should be a condition of the donation, according to the audit.

“The city is making these donations with public funds, and we believe the city should hold these organizations accountable for the way these funds are used,” auditors wrote.

The majority of the nonprofit groups, including the school system, already provide financial statements.

Last year, Hartselle funded $210,218 of the $549,800 in requests from 24 nonprofit organizations.

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