Magazine article American Libraries

Allegations Prompt Probe of Detroit PL Finances

Magazine article American Libraries

Allegations Prompt Probe of Detroit PL Finances

Article excerpt

The Detroit Public Library has hired an outside firm to examine its finances amid allegations of the mishandling of an estimated $4.2 million in grants, endowments, and gifts to the library.

Library Director Maurice Wheeler told American Libraries July 11 that the certified public accounting and management consultant firm of Plante and Moran, with 15 offices in Michigan and Ohio, will assess the entire financial operations of the library. He said negotiations with the firm began prior to the June 7 termination of David Gates, the library's chief accountant, for undisclosed reasons.

According to the June 11 Detroit News, Gates did not allege theft or misspending in the fiscal controversy, but asserted that the exclusion of grant and gift money on library financial statements violated state compliance standards.

When he uncovered the situation shortly after joining the library staff in January, Gates charged that several attempts to change the accounting procedure had been blocked by the administration. In an April 12 letter to Deputy Director Sandra Clemons, Gates said he could lose his state license as a certified public accountant if he continued to let grants remain outside the $30-million general fund.

Wheeler maintained that Gates's termination is a personnel matter and not related to his claims. "You need to take into consideration that these allegations are from a person who is no longer employed at the library," he explained.

"At issue are processes and procedures that were put in place for handling grants and gifts decades ago, that in some degree, have not been revised," the director explained. "This is basically a difference in interpretation of laws, a difference of opinion, and whether those processes and procedures are now in conflict with current laws." The library's legal counsel has indicated that there are no statutory violations, according to Wheeler. …

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