Archive for Wednesday, May 19, 2004

City council members discuss changes at library

May 19, 2004

The former president of the Tonganoxie library board said last week that he takes full responsibility for embezzlement of library funds by the previous director.

And he emphasized that a system of checks and balances is in place to ensure such problems never occur again.

Jim Morey, speaking to Tonganoxie City Council, said he shoulders the responsibility for former director Beckie Borella's misuse of the library's credit card and theft of funds. Morey became president of the board last May, a month after the embezzlement was uncovered. A new president was appointed earlier this month, although Morey continues as a board member.

Earlier this year, a Leavenworth County district judge ordered Borella to repay nearly $22,000 to the library, as part of sentencing on a misuse of public funds charge.

So far, Borella has paid $775 to the library, according to director Sharon Moreland.

City council member Ron Cranor said he raised the issue of who was responsible for overseeing library funds and what had been done to correct any problems at the library because he thought members of the public were concerned. Cranor said he waited to ask questions until Borella's court proceedings had concluded.

Morey said that in April 2003, Borella left a library board meeting early, and it was then that library board members discovered statements on the library's credit card detailing purchases for satellite television service, and other items.

"These were things the library, obviously, had not purchased," Morey told city council members. "This brought us to the realization that there was something squirrelly going on."

Morey then called then-Mayor John Franiuk and involved City Attorney Mike Crow and City Administrator Shane Krull in their discussions. Borella ultimately was fired and the matter was turned over to police. She later was charged in court.

"We were at fault," Morey said. "I was at fault, and I will stand here and take that blame. You can't figure that the people you hire and trust are going to be convicted felons. You can't work under that premise. You hire them, and you have to let them do their job. We've put in a lot of other checks and balances now that we did not have over the years."

Now, a third-party accountant pays all library bills. Previously, the treasurer had not taken an active role in the library's finances. The new treasurer, Ken Rahjes, does, Morey said.

Cranor said he wasn't trying to embarrass anyone, and said he appreciated what Morey and other library board members and workers were doing.

"It's business," he said. "It ain't personalities."

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