†††††††††††††††† RUPERT J. SMITH LAW LIBRARY OF ST. LUCIE COUNTY, INC.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Meeting Minutes
June 6, 2008
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Honorable Burton C. Conner, Chairman
Trustees Attending:† ††††††††††† Honorable Burton C. Conner, Circuit Judge
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Jim Wilder
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James T. Walker, Esq.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Paula A. Lewis, County Commissioner
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sharifa Jarrett, Esq.
Others Attending:†††††††††††††††† Lynn T. Atkinson, Secretary
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nora Everlove, Secretary
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sophia Holt, Office of Management and Budget, St. Lucie County
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nancy Palka, St. Lucie County Finance Department
††††††††††† Mr. Walker announced that he would open and preside over the meeting until either Commissioner Lewis or Judge Conner arrived.† Mr. Walker inquired as to whether or not everyone had a chance to review the minutes.† Mr. Wilder made a motion that the second amended minutes as they are presented at this time be approved.† Ms. Jarrett seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.† Ms. Atkinson announced that although she had distributed the second amended minutes she did not have the original with her for signatures.† Everyone agreed that the minutes could be signed that the next meeting.
II.††††††† Librarianís Report:
††††††††††† Ms. Everlove reported that we had an exceptional month, although not necessarily a good one.† Eppy Kieger one of the librarians is ill.† Ms. Everlove reported that she is in the process of making arrangements for a substitute librarian.† She will be conducting interviews for this position.†
††††††††††† Ms. Everlove reported that she felt that the Law Library Art Contest and Reception went well.† The new art category for kindergarten and first grader was the brain child of Merrilyn, one of our librarians.† Merrilyn felt that it was not fair for these two grades to compete with the older children.† So with matching funds from her own pocket she raised prize money from our patrons to fund the prize money.†† Overall Ms. Everlove wanted to express her thanks and gratitude to the law library staff for their great work in this endeavor.
III.†††††† Financial Reports:
††††††††††† Ms. Lewis joined the meeting and Mr. Walker turned the chair over to her pending the arrival of Judge Conner.† Ms. Everlove advised that she and Ms. Atkinson spent about an hour with Nancy Palka from County Finance going over the financial reports.†† Then Ms. Everlove distributed an updated financial report to the Trustees.†
††††††††††† The first of two issues to be addressed was why the numberís looked so odd from October and November of 2007 and how we could spend more money than we made and have out cash balance actually increase and the answer to the question is that a figure was posted in the wrong column and that it was not money really money that we had.†† The second issue was a $34,832.00 miscellaneous expenditure.† Sophia Holt from the Office of Management and Budget for St. Lucie County answered that question.† She explained that to the Trustees that a new revenue fund became available back in 2006 which is the $65.00 Fee of which the Law Library receives 25%.† †If the Law Library does not spend all of these revenue funds by the end of the fiscal year the monies are required under Florida Statute to be transferred to the Court Innovations Funds.†† Unfortunately the first year (2006) that this revenue source was available it was not realized that the funds, if not used would be required to be transferred to Court Innovations and we did not know to adjust the budget up to the dollar amounts.† Each year we estimate what the dollar amounts will be from the revenues, if we do not go back and adjust the budget by the end of the year to the actual revenues received then any expenses not hitting that organizational number would have to be transferred to Court Innovations.† Every quarter a financial report is submitted to the State concerning those monies.† Back in 2006 County Finance incorrectly posted the transfer to Court Innovations as an advance.† Unfortunately this mistake was not caught until the recent audit and it had to be shown as a bookkeeping entry for auditing purposes.†
††††††††††† †In 2007 Ms. Holt brought this matter to the attention of Ms. Atkinson and Ms. Holt got together and adjusted the budget to the actual revenues that came in from $65.00 Revenue Fund and they are continuing to do so to avoid the loss of any revenues to Court Innovations.
††††††††††† Now that we are aware of this situation, at beginning of the fiscal year Ms. Holt will contact Ms. Atkinson to advise to use the monies from this particular Org. 6251 and use the funds up and then switch to the other Org. 714.† We canít adjust the budget every week so Ms. Holt and Ms. Atkinson get together at the end of the fiscal year when a fund balance update is done to go to the Board of County Commissioners and try to adjust the amount to the exact amount for that year on that resolution going before the Board.† Itís not exact, but we come as close as we can to zeroing out this Org.
††††††††††† Mr. Wilder asked Ms. Holt if the $34,832.00 is reflective of monies that we had not used in 2006 or just that the paperwork hadnít caught up with the financial statements.†† Ms. Holt stated that it is actually funds that were not used and that had to be transferred to Court Innovations at the end of that fiscal year.
††††††††††† Ms. Everlove asked for clarification on which revenue source was which and Ms. Holt explained that the traffic ticket money rolls over from year to year and is the Law Libraryís to keep, but the 25% of the $65.00 fee funding source remaining balance gets transferred to Court Innovations at the end of the fiscal year.† Ms. Everlove asked what we could do to safeguard against the transfer (loss) of these funds to Court Innovations at the end of the year.† Ms. Holt explained that she and Ms. Atkinson are now aware of the situation and are working together to safeguard the loss of these funds.
††††††††††† Mr. Walker asked about a resolution that needs to be adopted concerning the budget and inquired if this was something the Trustees should be doing?† Ms. Holt advised that the Office of Management and Budget does an end of the year clean-up of accounts and she tries to add in the Law Libraryís budget adjustment at the end of the year since the Trustees would not know how much was left in and is anticipated to come into that account before the end of the year.† Even after the resolution is done there might be more revenues generated in that Org. 6291 and these funds will get transferred to Court Innovations.†† Further discussion was concerning this matter.
††††††††††† Ms. Jarrett asked for clarification on the $34,832.00 amount that was being shown as a miscellaneous expense in March of 2008.† She asked if this was an amount that should have been transferred to the Court Innovations Fund what is the reason that the adjustment didnít show up until March 2008.† Ms. Holt explained that the audit ends in February.† The first year after receiving the new Florida Statute and regulations, at the end of the year the auditors were working on the new reports required.† A lot of this stuff really didnít get into play until the middle of the 2007 year, so by the end of that year when Finance did its final postings, because it was an agency fund they assumed that it would be an advance and not a transfer.† The Office of Management and Budget then had to tell Finance to go back in and correct this and that is why it did not show up until the March 2008 financial report.
††††††††††† Ms. Holt advised that between the two revenue funds this past year they were almost enough to cover all of the Law Libraryís expenses for the year.† She said that she didnít have any idea with the current economy if this would continue to be the case.† Ms. Lewis stated that we had discussed the fluctuations in the revenues as well. ††And she commented that she had not comprehended the full scope of switching between the two revenue sources and thanked Ms. Holt for explaining it.† Ms. Lewis inquired if there were any further issues.† Ms. Everlove expressed her thanks to Nancy Palka for taking so much time for reviewing the financial statements and making the necessary corrections and that she has much more confidence that what we are looking at is accurate.† All financial reports will be reviewed by Finance before being distributed to everyone.†† There were staffing issues and that has now been taken care of.
††††††††††† Ms. Palka reported that since the cash flow report seems to be confusing to everyone she has reformulated it.† The report previously consisted of assets and liabilities; it will now reflect cash on-hand.† The reports will now show monthly balances and not year-to-date.†† Ms. Everlove asked Ms. Palka to send the updated reports for October 2007 through April 2008 to everyone.† Ms. Palka explained that she had overwritten those reports and would not be able to do that.† Ms. Atkinson stated that she would take the hard copies that Ms. Everlove has and distribute copies to everyone before the next meeting.† Discussion was had concerning the line item expenditures.† It was decided that since this cannot be sent via e-mail that Ms. Palka would send a copy to Ms. Atkinson and she would forward a copy to Ms. Everlove for review.† Mr. Walker inquired as to what the operating cash is.† Ms. Palka stated that as of the end of April it was $222,376.02 and handed out the reports that reflect this amount.†
††††††††††† Judge Conner joined the meeting and Ms. Lewis turned the chair over to him.† Judge Conner apologized for being late and inquired if the financial reports that we are or will be receiving are able to be understood by all.† Ms. Atkinson informed the Judge that everyone had come to an agreement as far as the reports are concerned and that the reports from October 2007 through March 2008 had been corrected and that she would be distributing these copies.† Judge Conner was further brought up-to-date concerning what had been discussed before he arrived.† Ms. Everlove replied that she feels that timing is an issue and she requested that Ms. Palka send the reports out at least a couple of days in advance of the meetings so that Ms. Everlove could go over the reports prior to the meetings and ask any necessary questions.† Ms. Palka agreed to do this and reported that the Profit and Loss Statement and the Revenue and Expense Report will not change in format.† Further discussion was had concerning the financial reports and Ms. Palka went through and explained the reports and figures.† An error was discovered on the April reports and Ms. Palka agreed to correct the error and send out corrected statements.
††††††††††† Ms. Lewis stated that she feels that the events and questions over the past few months concerning the financial reports have been unusual.† As far as the $34,832.00 she feels that it has been explained fully and was an unfortunate learning experience, but it is not likely to reoccur.† She is comfortable that this issue is being addressed and handled in the normal course of events can.† †She further stated that she was happy that the cash flow report has been revised as it had always been difficult to understand.††
††††††††††† Judge Conner stated that as chairman and as a sitting judge he has agreed that Ms. Atkinson may act as the secretary for the Law Library, however his concern is that he wants to make sure that it is understood that Ms. Atkinson is strictly filling a ministerial function even though the payment requests are processed by her.† Obviously if there is a red flag, she needs to question it.† But as his employee whatever she does reflects on him, he wants it understood that it is not Ms. Atkinsonís responsibility to catch any problems with the finances.†† As Trustees we are concerned with keeping an accurate finger on the pulse of the finances and he feels that this needs to be Ms. Everloveís responsibility or maybe a bookkeeper needs to be hired to keep track of these things.
††††††††††† Mr. Wilder stated that he felt that Judge Connerís point was well taken and that he hoped that he and he didnít believe that any of the other Trustees had ever given the impression the they felt that Ms. Atkinson should have the type of oversight responsibility.†† Mr. Wilder said that he felt that this was more Ms. Everloveís responsibility as she is the person with the pulse on how the Law Library is operating.
††††††††††† Judge Conner made one further observation.† He stated that as a sitting judge he has seen many situations where even the head of any organization was not aware of missing or misappropriated funds until gobs of money were missing.† He just wants it understood that the secretary to the Trustees is not to be in anyway responsible for monitoring any of that.†† Whether or not the Trustees are concerned to the point that they need to hire someone to oversee this, he doesnít know.† The question is what are the checks and balances to make sure that things are as they should be?† Is it Finance/Office of Management and Budgetís responsibility to monitor these things?
††††††††††† Ms. Holt replied that on a budget perspective, she looks at the budget and sees the regulations, whatís tied to the budget as far as budget processing.† Finance actually does the posting and receipt of any invoices.† Management and Budget does not see these postings.† Judge Conner asked if we are meeting the budget or not.† Ms. Holt replied that right now we are.† Ms. Holt explained that if there are any budget issues, which are generally just switching between the organizational numbers to pay invoices/bills she and Ms. Atkinson handle this.† Ms. Atkinson explained that she processes the invoices/bills and has Judge Conner approve them for payment, so Finance would not cut any checks or make any payments unless requested and authorized to do so.† That in itself is a form of checks and balances.† Ms. Palka explained that she was told that they were to prepare monthly reports for the Trustees.† She was not told to monitor the accounts.† She said that she did not see a problem if Finance sees something that looks odd to report it to the Trustees.††
††††††††††† Ms. Everlove asked if that wasnít what the annual audit was for.†† Judge Conner said, yes, but you donít want to wait 12 months to see if there are any problems.† Mr. Wilder stated that we receive monthly reports and that it is the duty of the Trustees to review the reports and fulfill that responsibility.†† Judge Conner asked if everyone was comfortable with this.† Mr. Walker said that Judge Conner had stated Ms. Atkinsonís role as he understand it and he believes that the discussion here has fairly captured the system of checks and balances that are in place.† Ms. Atkinson stated that Finance and the Office of Management and Budget are always very helpful in all matters concerning the Law Library.
IV.†††††† St. Lucie West Branch:
††††††††††† Ms. Jarrett brought it to the attention of the Trustees that while visiting the South County Annex Courthouse, she asked someone in the Recording department where the Law library was located but was told that it was closed because a librarian was not on duty. Notwithstanding this information, Ms. Jarrett found the library which was open and spoke to a young man who was inside studying. The gentleman stated that the library was closed when he arrived, so he brought it to the attention of a police officer, who opened the library for him. This is not the first time that this has occurred, so Ms. Jarrett made a motion which was carried unanimously, that the door handle/lock should be changed out so that the law library door could not be locked, and that a "dummy" camera should be installed in the library. This will insure that the door cannot be locked and the law library will remain open during the courthouse operating hours.
††††††††††† Mr. Walker stated that it is just ten dollars to join the Friendís of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library.† Member ship fees and participation are appreciated.† And remember the ďFriendsĒ helps the Law Library to help itself.†
††††††††††† Mr. Wilder expressed his sadness at the closing of the St. Petersburg Law Library due to funding costs.† Mr. Walker asked how that library was being funded.† Ms. Everlove commented that she wasnít sure, but that she knew that it had been at least partly underwritten by the county and that they have historically supported 2 law libraries and for 25 years they supported a third library at the criminal complex.† It has been an extremely expensive operation.† Ms. Everlove said she thinks they elected to close the St. Pete law library because Stetson has always opened its doors not just to attorneys but to the general public too.† The Clearwater law library still remains open.
††††††††††† As no further discussion was to be had, the meeting was adjourned.
††††††††††† Dated: †July ______, 2008
††††††††††† Burton C. Conner, Chairman
††††††††††† James T. Walker, Trustee
††††††††††† Jim Wilder, Trustee
††††††††††† Paula A. Lewis, Trustee
††††††††††† Sharifa Jarrett, Esquire, Trustee