48 INVESTIGATES: Commissioners allege public library leaders are misusing taxpayer money

Limestone County Commissioners chop budget after suspected misuse of funds

48 INVESTIGATES: County commissioners allege public library leaders are misusing tax payer money

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - County Commissioners have questions about a trust fund with more than $3 million in it, and about bank records that don’t seem to add up.

Their concern: alleged misuse of taxpayer money.

Limestone County Commissioners are concerned about how the Athens-Limestone Public Library's money is being managed.

“There were no receipts, there were just boxes of statements, but it didn’t have any itemized information on it. Some of them were at Cracker Barrel, Little Caesar’s pizza, they may have bought it for a summer reading program, but we still need to see why you’re receiving county and government funding we need to see the transparency," Limestone County Commissioner Jason Black explained.

Black says, for the last two years, the commission has asked the library for receipts and itemized statements.

Statements they say they have not received.

County Commissioner Steve Turner and Commission Chair Colin Daly say, Library Director Paula Laurita used a library credit card for personal use in Boston.

Laurita says it was an accident and she paid that money back by buying supplies for the library months later.

There's also issues with Laurita's insurance, according to the commission.

“The reason she didn’t participate in the insurance program according to Miss Laurita was that it was cheaper for the library to not have someone of her age on their plan, because it would then cause their rates to go up. So instead, she was taking a lump sum payment every year to purchase her own insurance," Commissioner Turner said.

Turner says that lump sum was more than $3,000.

I took the Commissioners' concerns to Paula Laurita. She claims she's given the commission and the city all the necessary paperwork.

“We turn in packages to them. The city asks for a package that accounts for how we used our appropriation and we submit that to them. We are more than open to answering any questions that are asked of us, the key is the questions haven’t been asked,” Laurita explained.

However, Limestone County Commissioners played WAFF 48 News a recording of a meeting with Paula Laurita where they went through financial records.

I called Laurita back after hearing the recordings and was told she “made everything available to the commission that they asked for."

Limestone County Commissioners are demanding an audit of the Athens-Limestone County Public Library.

The last audit was done in 2016.

According to Laurita, state law only requires libraries be audited every five years.

She says the Athens-Limestone County Public Library is in compliance.

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