RUPERT J. SMITH LAW LIBRARY OF ST. LUCIE COUNTY, INC.
May 2, 2008
Honorable Burton C. Conner, Chairman
Trustees Attending: Honorable Burton C. Conner, Jim Wilder, James T. Walker, Esq., Paula A. Lewis, County Commissioner and Sharifa Jarrett, Esq.
Trustees Absent: Nora J. Everlove, Librarian
Others Attending: Lynn T. Atkinson, Secretary
I: Previous Minutes:
Mr. Wilder made a motion to accept the April 2008 as reported. Mr. Walker seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.
II: Port St. Lucie Bar Association Trustee:
Judge Conner welcomed Sharifa Jarrett of Ruden McClosky as the new trustee who represents the Port St. Lucie County Bar Association. He informed Ms. Jarrett that Ms. Everlove is good about doing an orientation if she feels like she needs something. Mr. Walker will put together a packet to give Ms. Jarrett to acclimate her to the Law Library.
III: Financial Statements:
Judge Conner explained to Ms. Jarrett that the Law Library has a trust fund that the Trustees are responsible for, but that St. Lucie County is the fiscal agent for the Law Library. Ms. Atkinson handles making sure that the invoices are processed through finance and that the checks are cut by St. Lucie County Finance to pay the invoices as approved by the Librarian.
There are still some questions and concerns about the financial statements. Mr. Walker stated that there is a $35,000.00 item under miscellaneous that he is concerned about. Ms. Atkinson stated that she was not aware of what this item was. Mr. Wilder asked if this could be the additional monies that are committed for the shelving purchases. Ms. Atkinson stated that she did not think so, because she transferred these funds from line item to line item as advised by the Office of Management and Budget for St. Lucie County. Mr. Wilder inquired if the deposit amount was the $20, 451.00 that shows on the financial statement. Ms. Atkinson replied that was correct. Ms. Atkinson advised that she normally does not use the miscellaneous expenditure line item and that she really has no idea what this expenditure is, but she will get with finance and report back to the Trustees.
Judge Conner discussed Ms. Everlove’s e-mail to finance concerning the Trustees questions. Ms. Everlove’s e-mail asks Ms. Atkinson about the $35,000.00 miscellaneous expenditure and also asks Nancy Palka in finance about the other concerns that the Trustees have concerning past financial statements. Ms. Atkinson informed the Trustees that Mary Coallier who normally does the financial reports has been out on maternity leave and that Nancy Palka in finance has been handling them while Ms. Coallier has been out.
Judge Conner expressed concern that some of the questions concerning the financial statements have been hanging out there for over two months. He feels that it is critical that Ms. Everlove needs to be able to answer these questions at the May meeting. If it takes Ms. Everlove, Ms. Atkinson and Ms. Palka meeting, then that is what should happen. Mr. Walker informed everyone that in the past when Linda Childress was in charge and there were questions, the Trustees would invite her to come over from the County to address questions. Judge Conner stated that if that’s what we want to do, then he would leave that up to Nora and Lynn as to whether or not they want to invite her to the next meeting. Mr. Walker stated that he would make a motion to invite Nancy Palka or whoever else is available and is familiar with that account to attend our meeting. Judge Conner stated that once we get a second we can have some discussion as he had a different view. Mr. Wilder stated that for purposes of discussion that he would second the motion.
Judge Conner stated that it is unfortunate that Ms. Everlove is not present for the meeting because he would want to say this to her face to face, but he thinks we pay her a decent salary. She is the one that is responsible for buying what we need and making sure that the bills are submitted so that they get paid. So she really is the one with her finger on the pulse of the finances of this operation. He is a little concerned that as the person who is responsible for what is coming in and what is going out with money, that she doesn’t know the answers to some of these things and she should have been talking to Nancy Palka or whoever in finance so that she can answer these questions. This has dragged on for two months and it hasn’t happened. Judge Conner said that he is not opposed to inviting someone from finance to the meeting, but what he is afraid of is that we are going to invite this person and she’s going to sit at the meeting and say, I didn’t know what your questions are, so I’m not prepared to answer them. That’s why he is saying that Ms. Everlove and Ms. Atkinson need to meet with whomever at finance before the next meeting. If after that meeting they feel that the Trustees are not going to get it or the Trustees might have further questions, then he is not opposed to her being invited. But he wants Judge Conner to know the answers to these things before the next meeting.
Mr. Walker stated that he endorses everything Judge Conner said. What he would like to suggest is that a copy of these minutes be attached to our invitation to Nancy and the County, so that they’ll know exactly where we are coming from and with our request that the County meet with staff so that we all get the same page, because we haven’t been able to approve a financial report for three or four months.
Judge Conner stated that if the problem is that Lynn and the person at the County are not talking like they should be, then we need to know that too. He doesn’t know what the problem is, but he is concerned that this is now our third meeting. We’ve got questions, we don’t know the answers. He thinks Ms. Everlove should know. When you compare the amount that Ms. Everlove gets paid compared to the amount that the secretary gets paid, he doesn’t think it should be put on the secretary’s back to answer these questions. He really thinks it should be the Librarian that should be able to answer these questions.
Ms. Atkinson interjected that she does not have the experience or the knowledge to delve into financials.
Mr. Walker stated that he is not defending Ms. Everlove for a moment. He agrees with everything that the Judge said. However, Ms. Atkinson does not receive an inconsiderable sum of money, she pays the bills and she has talked to the County many times in the past and there’s a case to be made that both Ms. Atkinson and Ms. Everlove should be on top of this.
Ms. Atkinson stated that she did not have a problem with that, but that she has reminded Ms. Everlove by separate e-mails on several occasions asking her to speak with County Finance. Ms. Atkinson stated that having said that, she is not trying to put anything off on anyone else. She processes what is approved by and sent to her by the Librarian. She then prepares the check requests and submits them to the County with the correct line organizational fund and line item numbers. Ms. Atkinson stated that she had no problem meeting with anyone, but to be honest the financial statements are “Greek,” to her.
Mr. Wilder stated that it is “Greek,” to him as well at this point. He also stated that for this reason he believes that it might be a good idea to have individuals from County Finance attend the next meeting as suggested by Mr. Walker.
Judge Conner stated that one of the reasons this may be happening is that Ms. Everlove couldn’t be at one meeting and then Ms. Atkinson was on vacation for the next meeting and could not attend and now Ms. Everlove is not at this meeting. All he is saying is that the Librarian and the Secretary need to get their heads together before the next meeting; figure it out and be able to explain it at the next meeting.
Judge Conner questioned Mr. Walker as to why we have to use the County as our fiscal agent. Mr. Walker said that he is without knowledge of any requirement to use the County as the Law Library’s fiscal agent. The background, as Mr. Walker understands it is, back in the days when Judge Phillip Nourse was the Chair, we had a couple of CDs, most of the Law Library’s money was in a couple of CDs. There was some cash. The County was required to audit and although there weren’t any improprieties, the Trustees were embarrassed by the lack of financial organization. The County then stepped in and said, we’ll be happy to administer your funds for you and we won’t charge you to do this. The requirement was that the County would give the Trustees a monthly financial statement.
Ms. Jarrett stated that it appears to her that the profit and loss statement is essentially a summary of the totals year-to-date. Everyone agreed that if this is the case, then the figures make sense. Judge Conner was concerned that all of a sudden our expenses seem to be exceeding our revenues. Mr. Wilder stated that this had been the case since about September of last year.
Judge Conner asked that Mr. Walker amended the motion to reflect that the Librarian and the Secretary meet with County Finance to try answer some of the Trustees questions. Mr. Walker made the amendment, Mr. Wilder seconded the amendment and the motion was carried as amended.
IV: Friends of the Law Library:
Judge Conner expressed his sincere thanks as Chairman and on behalf of his fellow trustees to Mr. Walker as president of the Friend’s of the Law Library for the success of the Law Day Reception. A lot of work went in to the Reception and Judge Conner would like to state that the Trustees are extremely thankful for all of the work that the Friend’s of the Law Library have been doing in educating the public in general about the importance of libraries and in particular how strong this law library is. Mr. Walker expressed his thanks and asked that Judge Conner’s thanks be amended to accept thanks for his personal involvement. Judge Conner further stated that he was sure that everyone had seen the wonderfully crafted letter that Mr. Walker sent to Commissioner Craft making sure that he is fully apprised of the importance of law libraries.
Judge Conner stated that he didn’t have any updates on the construction/renovation of the old clerk’s building. His understanding is that they are doing the tunnel which is one of the major initial hurdles that they have to do for the renovation. He is hearing is that things are progressing. Mr. Walker inquired about the tunnel. Judge Conner explained that the tunnel is for the holding cells. They have to have a tunnel that connects to the holding cell in the other building. He has a feeler out to Roger Shinn, as we progress along, what the target date if for the Law Library’s move.
Mr. Wilder reported that Ms. Everlove will be the featured speaker at COSA next month. Last night he spoke with Superintendent Lannon, who said that he would be very interested in having presentations to the high schools. The schools are going to have a legal academy and the Superintendent would certainly like to have a presentation at the legal academy and perhaps to other interested classes. Ms. Everlove was with Mr. Wilder during this conversation and stated that she would love to come and talk to the students. Mr. Wilder stated that as he listens to Ms. Everlove’s presentations he is becoming more comfortable himself. He is feeling now that he could probably do a presentation, but wouldn’t do justice to the Law Library yet. He wants to line up some airtime for interviews about the Law Library and the benefits to the public. Mr. Wilder extended his personal thanks to Ms. Jarrett for her willingness to serve as a trustee.
Judge Conner asked Ms. Jarrett if she wanted to say anything and commented that is was obvious that she knows how to read the financial statements. Ms. Jarrett stated that she is very happy to be here and she will be as helpful as she possibly can. In terms of business, she has nothing at this time.
Ms. Atkinson asked Mr. Walker is Mr. Staten had contacted him about the portrait. Mr. Walker stated that he had not heard a thing. She informed the Trustees that Mr. Staten sent a computer generated copy of the portrait so that she could give him the correct and titles of all of the judges. Ms. Atkinson identified each judge with their correct title and mailed this back to Mr. Staten. At this time Mr. Staten is supposed to contact Mr. Walker concerning the plaque for the portrait, mainly the distinction between county and circuit judges. Judge Conner just asked that when the final proof is done that he and Ms. Atkinson get to look it over to make sure that all the judges are correctly identified.
As no further discussion was to be had, the meeting was adjourned.
Dated: June ______, 2008
Burton C. Conner, Chairman
James T. Walker, Trustee
Jim Wilder, Member, Trustee
Paula A. Lewis, Trustee
Sharifa Jarrett, Trustee