The library director should provide trustees with monthly financial reports which review:
- current list of bill
- year-to-date figures
- total budget
- balance of budget
- explanation of major changes
Since no library funds may be spent except by motion of the board, the trustees need financial reports (including bills) in advance in order to be prepared to question them and vote on them at the board meeting. Invoices and bills approved by the board and signed by the designated board authorities (usually the board president and secretary) are then sent to the city clerk for payment. A copy of the monthly financial report may be included with the invoices for informational purposes.
Monitoring the Budget
While the board should delegate the power to purchase materials, supplies and other goods to the library director, it should be aware of all purchases and monitor the budget monthly throughout the year. When reviewing the financial reports, look for yearly patterns of expenditures, such as energy bills in the winter, special program costs such as those associated with summer library programs and purchases of supplies and materials that occur once or twice a year.
Compare budget figures with actual amounts:
- Is the income as you expected?
- How do actual expenditures compare with budgeted amounts?
- Are there funds not being spent?
- Are there unusually high and low expenditures?
If there are variations you don’t understand, ask the library director to explain them. Depending on the information you receive, the board may need to adjust and/or amend the budget. The majority of Iowa library ordinances allow the library board the authority to shift funds from one line item to another as needed. The library may need to coordinate an amendment to the city’s certified budget as discussed below.
The library and city finance officer should monitor the library appropriation to ensure sufficient funds are available prior to board approval of library disbursements or expenditures and to ensure timely amendment to the certified budget, if necessary.