Library boards typically have a great deal of power over the library budget. Most library ordinances authorize control of the library budget by the board of trustees including the authority to approve expenditures and to move funds from one line item to another. It’s important to be familiar with your library’s ordinance because this is the law for your library. It’s also important because library ordinances vary from community to community. Compare the excerpts from the sample ordinance below to your library’s ordinance.
Iowa Library Services recommends that the city do the financial accounting, write checks for the library’s expenditures after authorization by the board and submit monthly financial reports to the board. Regardless of how your library handles the financial accounting and paying bills, it is important to understand that the city has a responsibility to account for all income and expenditures as stated in the Iowa Code, (see below). While the library board has the authority to decide how library funding is spent, it still needs to report all income and expenditures to the city.
Iowa Code 384.20 SEPARATE ACCOUNTS.
“1. A city shall keep separate accounts corresponding to the programs and items in its adopted or amended budget…
2. A city shall keep accounts which show an accurate and detailed statement of all public funds collected, received, or expended for any city purpose, by any city officer, employee, or other person, and which show the receipt, use, and disposition of all city property. Public moneys may not be expended or encumbered except under an annual or continuing appropriation...”
The board shall have and exercise the following powers and duties:
Section 6, Powers and Duties, subsection 9: "To have exclusive control of the expenditures of all funds allocated for library purposes by the council, and all moneys available by gift or otherwise for the erection of library buildings, and of all other moneys belonging to the library including fines and rentals collected, under the rules of the board.”
Section 6, Powers and Duties, subsection 10: “To accept gifts of real property, personal property, or mixed property, and devises and bequests, including trust funds; to take the titles of said property in the name of the library; to execute deeds and bills of sale for the conveyance of said property; and to expend the funds received by them from such gifts, for the improvement of the library.”
Section 9, Library Account: “All money appropriated by the council from the General Fund for the operation and maintenance of the library shall be set aside in an account for the library. Expenditures shall be paid for only on orders of the board, signed by its president and secretary.”
- Having a library account can be accomplished by establishing a separate subsidiary fund within the City’s General fund. Separate bank accounts are allowable, but not required.
- The library board’s powers cannot be changed without an election. As stated in Iowa Code 392.5, “A proposal to alter the composition, manner of selection, or charge of a library board, or to replace it with an alternate form of administrative agency, is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.”(change in the 2013 language)