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EDISON, NJ–The March 23 Edison Council worksession meeting got a little heated during the oral petitions and remarks portion of the agenda.
Edison Library Board President Lisa Krauze took to the podium and questioned Business Administrator Maureen Ruane about what she stated was six weeks of unanswered emails, and no follow-up from a February 6 meeting with both Ruane and Mayor Thomas Lankey.
The issue relates to the funding formula that calculates how the library board’s budget is charged by the town for pooled administrative costs, including a specific charge of $110,000 for gasoline.
The funding formula is called a “splits line,” and is supposed to represent the library percentage of the total township workforce, and therefore the cost of providing an administrative service.
The percentage is then multiplied by the cost of the township performing a certain service, and the library board pays the cost to the township out of its budget.
Examples of these pooled accounts include payroll expense, employee benefits, and gasoline.
The library system has three buildings, 32 full-time and 35 part-time employees.
After the meeting, Krauze said the library is being charged a splits line of approximately 8.1%. She said that number was arbitrarily developed over 20 years ago and has never changed.
Speaking to Edison Now by telephone March 24, Business Administrator Ruane said there were about 25-30 such accounts that the township uses the percentage for when charging the library board.
Ruane echoed what Krauze said, commenting “no one at all can explain the origin of the splits line,” adding that it has been around “since the beginning of time.”
A splits line is calculated for garbage collection, sewer service and the library system, Ruane said.
Krauze lamented that the library system is paying more in splits than in salaries. She advised that for at least the last six years, the library board has been trying to get the number changed by prior administrations without success.
“Mayor Lankey has been amenable to try and fix it,” Krauze stated, saying that is what prompted the February 6 meeting.
Since that time, both the library board and township have hired auditors to investigate the splits charge.
Krauze said the library auditor determined the library system represents about 4% of the township workforce.
Ruane stated during the meeting that she only received the audit report 3-4 days ago, and characterized the dust-up as “a breakdown in communication.”
Ruane said she had expected to communicate with the library board after reworking the entire budget.
“I’m not just changing one number,” she advised.
She commented that the library is one division of the whole town, adding that “I get roughly 200 emails a day.”
She also remarked how Edison had to deal with 17 snowstorms over the winter, in addition to the fact that the “garage burned down.”
The issue with the $110,000 gasoline charge is that gasoline is dispensed from a township pump, and all use is logged per vehicle. Exact usage can be easily calculated, and the splits line is not necessary.
The library system vehicle fleet consists of 2 minivans and a bookmobile – a converted bus.
Reached by telephone March 24, Library Director Judith Mansbach said the bookmobile operates as a “library on wheels,” bringing library services to the elderly and disabled.
It operates Monday through Thursday in the afternoon, and on Friday mornings goes to the adult day care center.
Mansbach said the library budget was $4.8 million for the current year, which is funded by a line item tax on homeowner’s tax bills.
Ruane and Krauze privately spoke after the meeting, and a resolution on the matter is expected to be forthcoming.
The library system is created by township ordinance. The Mayor appoints six board members to five-year terms on the board, and the Superintendent of Schools, or his designee, rounds out the seven-member board.