City Freezes Queens Library Money

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

On Monday, City officials from the Dept. of Design and Construction told the City Council that it has frozen payments that allowed Queens Library to use portions of its $20 million capital budget on its own projects with little City oversight.

According to reports, City officials will not release any funding until the Library provides the City with proof that all of their expenses are legitimate.

The news comes just days after the office of City Comptroller Scott Stringer went on record to claim that Queens Library has not provided them with “complete access to financial records  that would shine a light on how [it] spends its money” – most  of which comes from City taxpayers.

“To justify its refusal to provide its records, the Library has relied on a stipulation from the 1990s, forcing the Comptroller to seek a Court order to gain the disclosures needed to do a complete audit,” spokesperson Eric Sumberg said in a statement. “Misinformation campaigns are not a replacement for opening the books.”

Queens Library has since denounced the accusations, arguing that its staff has been cooperative.
“The Library is providing access to the Comptroller to all City funds as required. The Library is providing access to the Comptroller to the workers compensation fund and the book sales fund,” said Joanne King, communications director at the Library, in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Comptroller’s Office rushed into court when the Library would have welcomed a meeting for the opportunity of an amicable solution.”

King also blasted the City Dept. of Design and Construction for freezing its much-needed funds, arguing that the hold will negatively impact the communities it serves.

“Every City dollar that is spent on capital projects is fully-documented and approved by the NYC Dept. of Design and Construction, then approved and disbursed by the City Comptroller’s office,” she said. “That is standard procedure and has always been the case. Libraries are built and upgraded for the benefit of the community who uses them. We look forward to seeing these important projects completed in a timely manner.”

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or
@nkozikowska.