HARRISBURG, OCT. 22, 2009—State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today applauded the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Board for its approval yesterday of the recommendation of its auditing committee to order a special audit of the library system.

“There are a lot of people looking for ways to help save these libraries, and the more information we have on the Carnegie Library’s financial situation and how the money is being spent, the better,” Fontana said. “I am very glad that the RAD Board made this decision and is asking the questions that they are asking.”

Last Thursday, RAD’s audit committee recommended to the RAD Board that an audit be conducted on the Carnegie library system and that it look into long-range finances and how the decision to close libraries was made. The $10,000 audit will be paid for by RAD. Although RAD periodically audits its grant recipients and requires professional audits, this audit would have a greater scope so that the RAD Board can see the Library’s entire financial picture.

“This action is one more reason to grant the request I made earlier this week to the Carnegie Library Board, asking that they delay the beginning of their ‘action plan’ for one year,” said Fontana. “That time frame is not unreasonable and allows the audit to be completed and the results made public before any drastic decisions are made. I believe it’s the responsible thing to do.”

The Carnegie Board announced on October 6th that the Beechview, West End, Lawrenceville and Hazelwood branches would be closed, the Carrick and Knoxville branches merged, and the Mount Washington library moved. The majority of these actions would be finalized in the library’s budget to be approved by the Board at their December 14th meeting. Fontana formally asked the Board yesterday to delay such action to allow time for long-term solutions to be identified.

Fontana continues to work to secure a commitment from the Carnegie Library Board to keep these branches open if additional funding is identified, but thus far there has not been such a commitment. He has also been participating in community meetings with residents who are working to identify options – including a meeting held this past Saturday in Beechview and an upcoming meeting in Mt. Washington this evening.

Details on the RAD Board audit and its scope were not immediately available. In his email to the RAD Board earlier this week, Fontana urged the Board to make the audit as broad as it could be. He indicated to the members that there are many unanswered questions remaining in regards to this decision and urged them to act quickly on the committee’s recommendation.