Suffice to say, things are a little murkier and not as clearcut as "We are out of money, give us more."
Read the letter from Ellen Schwartz, CPA to get the full scoop. Here's a brief sample:
|Is the Library Really Broke?|
From Ellen Schwartz, a Providence CPA:
I am a resident of Washington Park and a volunteer tutor with the after school homework club that used to meet at the Washington Park Branch of the Providence Public Library (PPL). When the library informed the residents that it was closing the branch because of structural damage to the building due to an unrepaired leak in the roof, I could see first hand the terrible effect it would have on the neighborhood. I am also a Certified Public Accountant so I decided to take a look at their financial statements to see why they had been too broke to fix the roof.
All non-profit organizations have to file an informational tax return called Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. All of the information in this article is from tax forms filed by the PPL, which are open to public inspection, and which are available on the Internet at www.fndcenter.org.
For the most recent year posted, June 30, 2004, the PPL had an excess of revenue over expenses (called profit in the business world) of over $2.6 million. For an institution with an annual budget of around $10 million, this is not an indication of financial crisis-quite the contrary. But since a single year could be misleading, I also looked at the tax returns for the two previous years. Those two years also showed "profits" of $710,000 and $459,000. But the PPL claims there is a crisis so I decided to look further.