Montclair Momentum

Montclair Library Funding Restored, But Residents Want To Know What Prompted ‘Messy’ Audit

Following a protest and public outcry, Montclair leaders say that overdue funds have been released to the Montclair public library.

Still, questions linger over why the money was withheld in the first place; why the council’s finance committee ordered an audit of the library’s finances; and why the committee also proposed an agreement that would reduce library funding and bring some of its operations under the control of the council. The controversy began after the council presented the results of an audit of the library at their Oct. 19 public meeting. Mary Packer, executive director of the Montclair Public Library Foundation, said the audit was “flawed and incorrect in numerous ways,'” and was based on a draft library budget. The audit presentation came while library officials were waiting for overdue third and fourth quarter payments from the town. Packer said that with the audit presentation and agreement, the finance committee was, in essence, recommending defunding the library. Per state statue, the town must provide a minimum contribution to the library; this year, it was $330,000. Historically, the town, like most others in the state, provides an additional percentage over that minimum, ranging from 31% in 2019 to 13% in 2020. The proposed percentage for the 2021 budget is 16 percent. The finance committee consists of Mayor Sean Spiller and councilmen Dave Cummings and Bill Hurlock.