Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Is FCPL buying books and other holdings? It's a riddle wrapped in a budget enigma.



Happy New Fiscal Year, Fairfax County!  Yes, it’s July 1, 2014, the first day of FY2015 for the County.  

. . . but there is still some news about FCPL spending for FY2014 although the final figures are not yet in. 

Here is the table of FCPL General Fund expenditures for FY2014 through May—eleven month of the fiscal year:

 

What stands out in the above table, the first three columns of which are copied from the Fairfax County Financial Transparency website, is that the Library Administration has yet to spend a quarter ($1.8 million) of its operating expense budget for this fiscal year.

Digging more deeply into that operational expenditure shortfall, we find that the operating expenses category has a large and diverse set of expenses.  Here’s the list through May 2014:


Expenditures by Line Item
OPERATING EXPENSES
Line Item
Expenditures Year-to-Date
ASSIGNED AGENCY VEHICLES
$151.93
BUILDING MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
$17,306.31
COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA RELATED SERVICES
$216,912.44
COMPUTER ACCESSORIES AND SUPPLIES
$12,633.35
COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
$436,459.11
COMPUTER SERVICES
$49,061.49
CREDIT CARD EXPENDITURES
$125,852.17
DEPARTMENTAL AWARDS
$7,003.78
DOCUMENT SERVICES COPYING CHARGES
$119,024.82
DOCUMENT SERVICES MICROFILM CHARGES
$30,333.86
DOCUMENT SERVICES PHOTOTYPESETTING CHARGES
$0.00
DOCUMENT SERVICES PRINTING AND BINDING CHARGES
$28,974.27
FIRE EXTINGUISHER MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
$125.00
FUEL
$441.02
LIBRARY EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
$13,286.47
MANAGEMENT/PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
$0.00
MEALS
$0.00
MILEAGE ALLOWANCE AUTOMOBILE
$14,455.59
MISCELLANEOUS SERVICES
$19,830.57
MOTOR POOL
$716.65
OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND FURNITURE
$17,047.59
OFFICE EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR SERVICES
$6,919.44
OFFICE SUPPLIES
$2,741,795.18
OPERATIONAL TRAVEL
$46.63
OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES
$117,147.47
OTHER PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT&CONTRACTUAL SERVICES
$165,471.90
PC REPLACEMENT CHARGE BACK
$701,500.00
POSTAGE
$27,578.64
PRINTING ACCESSORIES AND SUPPLIES
$321.98
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS
$4,564.00
REFUSE DISPOSAL EXPENSE
$35,106.24
SECURITY, FIRE, SAFETY, AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
$1,177.92
SERVICES-OTHER AGENCY
$306,818.66
TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE CHARGE BACK (DATA CENTER
$119,699.00
TRANSLATION SERVICES
$366.60
VEHICLE REPLACEMENT
$275.00
TOTALS:
$5,338,405.08

Nowhere in the entire FCPL budget is there a concrete reference to acquisition of library holdings.  Nowhere does any table list “books and other holdings” or words to that effect, the knowledge capital of the public library system.  We suspect that the purchase of books is hidden in the highlighted category  “Office Supplies” given the size of the expenditures--but it could be for paper clips.  At the same time, FCPL can list $321.98 in purchases of “printing accessories and supplies” on a separate budget line.   Even "Meals"--on which NO money was spent--has its own budget line.   Apparently books, magazines, online subscriptions, and the rest are not sufficiently important to the Library’s administration to have their own budget line despite their role in the library's mission.  

Of course, there is no way for the public to know how much the Library had budgeted for “office supplies”  although the highlighted line shows that FCPL has spent about $2.7 million on “office supplies” during the fiscal year through May.  By comparison, by the end of last fiscal year (FY 2013) FCPL had spent more than $3.7 million in this nebulous purchase category—one million dollars more spending than this year.  Who knows, it too could have been spent on paper clips....

The good news possibly is that buying books is a straightforward process--just sign a purchase order--and the funds could have been obligated and committed in June 2014 for these acquisitions.  Who knows, there may be more books and other publicly available information available from the library this year if it doesn’t cull too many.

We will check when the final tabulation comes in on how well the library did in buying books and other holdings to fulfill its public mission although this kind of accounting is not helpful.

1 comment:

  1. If this is Financial Transparency I would love to see what Financial Opacity looks like. Bureaucratic Gobbledygook of the first order and first degree!

    ReplyDelete

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