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Laws Governing Library Funding

Laws Governing Library Funding

Library boards need to be cognizant of the numerous laws that govern the administration of public libraries in New Jersey. Being able to locate specific titles/chapters/sections of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (NJSA) and the New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) that pertain to library funding and municipal responsibility can be challenging. This Trustee Info & Action will hopefully begin to place a few of the basics, along with the applicable title/chapter/section, at your fingertips. It is always advisable to get the advice of your library's legal counsel regarding specific questions you may have in regard to the statutes.

For more in-depth information see:

www.njstatelib.org/ - Services for Libraries ? Resources ? Library Law

 

Board Education Component

NJ LIBRARY LAW

N.J.S.A. 40:54-1. Establishment; chapter applicable to libraries established under other laws. Any municipality may, in the manner hereinafter provided, establish a free public library within its corporate limits. Every library established under this chapter, and every free public library established pursuant to any general law shall be governed by the provisions of this chapter.

 

 POWERS OF THE LIBRARY BOARD

 N.J.S.A. 40:54-12. Powers of board The board shall hold in trust and manage all property of the library. It may rent rooms, or, when proper, construct buildings for the use of the library, purchase books, pamphlets, documents, papers and other reading matter, hire librarians, and other necessary personnel, and fix their compensation, make proper rules and regulations for the government of the library, and generally do all things necessary and proper for the establishment and maintenance of the free public library in the municipality. The board may also transfer to and receive from other libraries books, magazines, prints, maps and other related library materials for the purpose of augmenting the interlibrary loan service.

 

1/3 MIL

N.J.S.A. 40:54-8. Library tax. - Within every municipality governed by this article there shall annually be raised by taxation a sum equal to one-third of a mill on every dollar of assessable property within such municipality based on the equalized valuation of such property as certified by the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury in accordance with the provisions of R.S.54:4-49. The amount shall be assessed, levied and collected in the same manner and at the same time as other municipal purposes taxes are assessed, levied and collected therein and shall be paid from the disbursing officer to the treasurer of the free public library on a quarterly basis.

(THIRD OF A MIL EQUALS 33 CENTS ON $1,000 OF ASSESSED VALUE. For example, a home which is assessed at $100,000 would pay $33 a year for library service.)

 

ADDITIONAL FUNDING/DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS

N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.4 Annual municipal or joint free public library funding

(a) Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and 40:54-29.4, municipalities are required to provide an annual mandatory library appropriation.

(b) Municipalities that elect to appropriate additional funding for municipal or joint free public libraries more than 15 percent above the previous year's total municipal expenditures for such library may do so upon application and approval from the State Librarian, as required by N.J.S.A. 40:54-8.1. Municipalities that chose to appropriate this additional amount are required to submit the following information to the State Librarian:

1. A prioritized itemized list that delineates the proposed use of the funds; and
2. Justification that supports the provision of efficient and effective library services.

(c) Municipalities may appropriate an additional sum greater than the annual mandatory library appropriation.

(d) Municipalities are required to expend money raised as per N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and N.J.S.A. 40:54-29.4 in full to the treasurer of the board of trustees, or into a reserve account retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer to be disbursed by same after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library as provided by N.J.S.A. 40:54-13. Municipalities which structure the expenditure of the library appropriation into periodic payments shall make such periodic payments to the treasurer in advance at a rate of no less than 25 percent of the total annual appropriation in quarterly installments.

(e) In those municipalities where the annual library appropriation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and N.J.S.A. 40:54-29.4 is retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer and disbursed by him or her after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library, any prior year unexpended funds remaining from the annual mandatory library appropriation shall be retained in the library-controlled account dedicated for eligible purposes, as defined in N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.3 and 12.5, for the maintenance of such municipality's public library.

 

RETURN OF EXCESS FUNDS

N.J.S.A. 40:54-15 Annual report, identification of excess funds to municipality, transfer procedure.

a. The board of trustees shall make an annual report to the chief financial officer of the municipality which shall include a statement setting forth in detail all public revenues received by the library, all State aid received by the library, all expenditures made by the library and the balance of funds available. Notwithstanding the requirements of R.S.40:54-8 pertaining to the amount required to be raised and appropriated for library purposes, the annual report shall identify excess funds that the board is required to approve and transfer to the municipality as miscellaneous revenue. The excess funds transferred shall be any amount that exceeds the sum of the amount of the audited operating expenditures of the library for the most recent available year, plus an additional 20% of those operating expenditures, excluding: (1) funds restricted for capital projects and grants; and (2) any devise, bequest, or donation made to establish or maintain the free public library, to be maintained as surplus. The annual report shall also include an analysis of the state and condition of the library and shall be sent to the municipal governing body and to the State Library. The State Librarian shall prescribe by regulation the form of all such reports. (Read more online.)

 

INELIGIBLE COSTS

N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.6 Ineligible municipal or joint free public library costs that may not be supported with the annual mandatory library appropriation

(a) The annual mandatory library appropriation shall not be expended by the library board of trustees for ineligible costs as defined in this chapter and including:

1. Debt or lease payments made to a municipality;
2. Rent or lease payments made to a municipality;
3. Capital expenses not meeting the criteria of N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.5(c); and
4. Debt service costs.

NJAC 15:21-12.5 (c) If trustees reserve funding for Capital expense using funds from the annual mandatory library appropriation, it is required by that the trustees have a plan of at least Three years, and that the plan will be made available to the State Librarian upon request.

 

YEARLY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

N.J.S.A. 40:54-15 Annual report, identification of excess funds to municipality, transfer procedure.

a. The board of trustees shall make an annual report to the chief financial officer of the municipality which shall include a statement setting forth in detail all public revenues received by the library, all State aid received by the library, all expenditures made by the library and the balance of funds available. Notwithstanding the requirements of R.S.40:54-8 pertaining to the amount required to be raised and appropriated for library purposes, the annual report shall identify excess funds that the board is required to approve and transfer to the municipality as miscellaneous revenue. The excess funds transferred shall be any amount that exceeds the sum of the amount of the audited operating expenditures of the library for the most recent available year, plus an additional 20% of those operating expenditures, excluding: (1) funds restricted for capital projects and grants; and (2) any devise, bequest, or donation made to establish or maintain the free public library, to be maintained as surplus. The annual report shall also include an analysis of the state and condition of the library and shall be sent to the municipal governing body and to the State Library. The State Librarian shall prescribe by regulation the form of all such reports. (Read more online.)

N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.7 Annual municipal and joint free public library reports and audit

(a) Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:74-11, each library receiving State aid shall annually make and transmit a report to the State Librarian on or before a date designated by the State Librarian and based on a fiscal year, the statute not withstanding. Each library and municipality applying for per capita state aid will meet this requirement through the annual submission of the survey, application and certification. This report will contain such information, based upon the records and statistics of the preceding fiscal year, as the State Librarian shall require and will include the following elements: (Read more online.)

(d) A certified audit of the library board of trustees shall be performed annually as required by N.J.S.A. 40A:5-4 et seq. and described in N.J.A.C. 5:30-6.1. In some cases, all budget appropriations, fines, fees and all other income of the library are retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer in an account reserved for the library and disbursed by the municipal treasurer after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library. If the municipal audit includes a thorough audit of the library's finances, including demonstration that the library board of trustees duly authorized all expenditures, then the municipal audit will meet this requirement.

 

TRUSTEE LIABILITY

N.J.S.A.2A:53A-7.3. Trustee of free public or regional library or member of county library commission;

immunity from liability. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no person serving as a member of the board of trustees of a free public library or regional library, or as a member of a county library commission, shall be liable for damages resulting from the exercise of judgment or discretion in connection with the duties of his office unless the actions evidence a reckless disregard for the duties imposed by the position.

 

Director's Role:

Reviewing the law at your board meetings will serve to empower your trustees as you navigate your relationship with your local governing body. This information may be useful if you have issues regarding the powers of your board, disbursement of funds by your municipality and annual reporting requirements.

 

 

BCCLS Advocacy Committee
Trustee Info & Action March 2015

 


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