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Richmond library takes over, pays for financial duties once performed by city school district

By Joanne Beck
Beth Paine Feb. 2023
2023 File Photo of Richmond Memorial Library Director Beth Paine
Photo by Howard Owens

For the first time in decades, Richmond Memorial Library will be taking care of its own financial duties versus allowing the city school district to provide an in-kind service as part of its landlord-tenant relationship.

The district was made aware of the change with a letter from library Board President Jessica Ecock-Rotondo, who wrote to inform the district that as of 2024, the library “will be departing our accounting and payroll from the Batavia City School District” and will be working with RPM Payroll and Rupert Accounting. 

Given that the library had receive this as an in-kind service at no extra charge, The Batavian asked library Director Beth Paine, who just celebrated her first year in Batavia, about the additional costs now being incurred, and how to explain that to taxpayers. 

Paine said that this new arrangement was something that she had been used to from her previous position before coming to Batavia.

“The board and I agreed that we prefer to have everything in-house so that we have direct control over our finances. In my previous director position at a school district library, all financial functions were done in-house and it made the whole process more streamlined and it was much easier to deal with time-sensitive issues,” Paine said. “It could be difficult to deal with any changes that needed to be made quickly when we needed to contact the district each time before we could proceed. We also preferred to do our own payroll as it was easier to track our staff leave time and again to make any changes that were needed immediately.”

She has taken over the payroll and related duties, she said, and the library accounts payable clerk and accounts receivable clerk have taken over the bookkeeping tasks. The library has hired an outside accountant to “oversee all of these functions, and we have hired a payroll company to process our payroll.,” she said.

“The cost of the change was minimal, as we were already paying Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES for the financial software and administration of the accounting functions,” she said. “We also recently switched from a higher-priced human resources company to a company with a much more reasonable pricing scale for the same services. The savings from that change more than cover the small increase in our accounting costs.” 

Batavia School Superintendent Jason Smith said the district has a “long history of providing this in-kind support to and for the Richmond Library.”

“And have been glad to do so, as the library was bequeathed to the district by Mary Richmond many, many years ago,” he said. “We essentially have a "landlord/tenant" relationship with the library, where we provide for upkeep (a part of our recently approved Capital Project includes improvements at RML), and up until Dec. 4, 2023, provided in-kind financial support.”

The district has been providing these financial services to the library for “a very long time,” he said and also performed purchasing on behalf of RML before that was taken back as well. 

“The district has the capability, understanding and staff to perform the accounting and payroll functions for RML,” he said. “These are the main reasons why the district performed these tasks on behalf of RML.”

The library’s tax levy this year was $1,381,469, with a tax rate of $1.19 per $1,000 assessed value. So for a house assessed at $100,000, that’s an extra $119 a year for library services in addition to city school taxes of $17.18 per $1,000, or $1,718.

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