Source: Sherman Publications

Auditors terminated; fresh start for Brandon Library

by Susan Bromley

January 15, 2014

Brandon Twp.- The library board has terminated their contract with the auditing firm of Pfeffer, Hanniford, and Palka.

Board President Ann Schmid had no comment regarding the work done by the firm saying only, “We are doing a forensic audit and want a fresh start for the library.”

Pfeffer, Hanniford and Palka were in the third year of their contract. They will not complete the 2013 audit. Request for proposals for a new auditing firm will go out within the next week and Schmid said she anticipates the board will hire a new auditing firm by the end of February.

Karl Haiser is currently conducting a forensic audit of the library after Director Paula Gauthier resigned suddenly on Nov. 14 amidst questions about why the library had not received state aid revenue for the past five years. Bill DiSessa, a representative for the Michigan Department of Education, which oversees libraries in Michigan, said the library was denied state aid because Gauthier did not provide the college transcripts necessary and thus was not certified. Gauthier had previously claimed that she had a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

The library has also not received universal service funds, a federal technology-based grant for libraries and unpaid bills totalling almost $25,000 were found in the administrative office. Those bills have since been paid, said Acting Director Colleen Stringer.

A 2014 budget originally created by Gauthier with revenues and expenditures of $888,914 was cut by almost $100,000, after Stringer asked every department head what was the least they could function with. Cuts included professional memberships for staff, mileage reimbursements, inter-library deliveries, and programs. The final approved 2014 budget is $790,000.

“We wanted to start with a realistic number,” said Stringer. “We wanted to err on the side of caution.”

Stringer and the library board are continuing to pursue state aid revenue for 2013-2014. Stringer meets all qualifications for a library director and they are anticipating receiving about $7,500. The library will also pursue universal service funds.

The next library board meeting will be 7 p.m., Jan. 27, in the community room, 304 South St., Ortonville.