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As part of LTA’s expansion of service to aid and assist library trustees and directors, LTA offers members an opportunity to confer with Joe Eisner, free of charge.

Joe can be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 720-8969 or by email at ltafaqjoe@librarytrustees.org. (Question are handled with discretion.)

For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:

Question . . .May a library board pay the cost for a trustee to attend a course relating to library matters and for which continuing education credits will be received?

Answer  . . . Yes– but the following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained.”

Public library boards:

1) general– expenditures by staff members as well as library board members for cost of attendance at meetings, conventions or schools , and travel thereto,  is authorized by the provisions of General Municipal Law s77-b, which requires prior authorization by the library board, which may delegate to the library director or an officer of the board such authority. (Where expenses for a library board member are concerned, it would be prudent for the board to delegate unto itself such authorization.)  In any case, the authorization should be “…duly recorded in the minutes of the board….” (13 Op State Compt 70, 1957). The library board may also authorize cash advances in accordance with the procedures outlined in General Municipal Law s77-b(6)).

General Municipal Law s77-b(3) further states: “All actual and necessary registration fees, all actual and necessary expenses of travel, meals and lodging and all necessary tuition fees incurred in connection with attendance at a conference shall be a charge against the municipality* and the amount thereof shall be audited, allowed and paid in the same manner as other claims….” (General Municipal Law s77-b(3)). Reimbursement  for travel “…by car, owned by any person so authorized…. [shall be in] an amount not to exceed the amount which the governing board allows as mileage” (General Municipal Law s77-b(4)).

 

*Note: “As used in…  {General Municipal Law 77-b, the following terms shall mean: ….(b) Governing Board. …the trustees of a public library…”

 

[General Municipal Law s 77-b(1)(b))); “Municipality. …public library…” [General Municipal Law s77-b(1)(a))]

2) continuing education credits- there is no doubt that that the provisions of General Municipal Law s77-b apply not only to public library employees, but trustees as well: “The governing board of a municipality may, by majority vote, authorize any of its members,  or any officer or employee…. to attend a conference. Such conference travel shall b for official business and shall be made utilizing a cost-effective and reasonable method of travel…” (General Municipal Law s77-b(2)).

Thus, there would be no valid reason why  a public library board could not authorize the expense for a library board member to attend a meeting or conference which included the cost for that board member to receive continuing education credits. When asked  whether a city may pay the cost of tuition incurred by the city’s corporation counsel for attending a municipal law course at a conference for municipal officials,  if the tuition is charged to cover the cost of an “accredited provider” under the continuing legal education requirement for attorneys in New York State, the Comptroller stated: “We have previously concluded that, pursuant to [General Municipal Law] 77-b, a municipality may pay the travel, meal, lodging, registration and tuition expenses of its municipal attorney for attendance at seminars, such as those conducted by professional associations, that are directly related to the attorney’s work as counsel for the municipality and that the municipality believes  are of benefit to the municipality (1979 Opns St Comp No 79-336, p. 59). It is well established that an incidental private benefit will not invalidate an expenditure that has as its primary objective  a proper municipal purpose…. Therefore, the fact that an attorney may coincidentally receive CLE credit for attending such a seminar, in our opinion, would not change the primary purpose of the expense from one that benefits the municipality is the same irrespective of whether CLE credit benefits the municipality, if the cost to the municipality is the same irrespective of whether the CLE credit is obtained…. (Op State Compt 99-9, 1999).

Association library boards:

While the provisions of General Municipal Law s77-b do not apply to association libraries, as a means of insuring prudent, consistent policies in regard to expenditures for travel and  attendance at meetings and conventions, association library boards may wish  to consider adopting the general guidelines outlined in these statutes and various Comptroller’s opinions relating to the subject. One step in considering this objective would be to draft, discuss and adopt a written policy regarding such matters as suggested in the Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State, 2015 ed: “By Education Department Regulations (8NYCRR) s90.2, the Commissioner of Education has established minimum standards for public and association libraries… [which are] required to have:  Written policies for the operation of the library….” (p 11).

Additionally, as trustees of an institution chartered by the Regents, association library boards have the power to  “Make all by-laws and rules necessary  and  proper  for  the purposes of the institution and not inconsistent with law or any rule of the  university; but no rule by which more than a majority vote shall be required for any specified action by  the  trustees  shall  be amended, suspended  or  repealed  by a smaller vote than that required for action thereunder” (Education Law s226(10)).

 

Please visit LTA’s policy database to see some examples of policies regarding Continuing Education for Trustees, including the following:

You can limit results by selecting the “Continuing Education” category from the drop down box.

If you have a continuing education policy for trustees which is not in LTA’s database, please share it by sending it to Tim Gavin, Executive Director at tgavin@librarytrustees.org

Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.