Gift Cards for Library Employees a No-No

Good intentions. Bad idea. Those words summarize the recent attempt by Live Oak (GA) Public Libraries Director Christian Kruse to spend nearly $23,000 in library funds on gift cards for 166 employees.

The cards were valued at $50, $100 and $200 and were meant to recognize part-time and full-time employees after about three years of stagnant salaries and increased health care costs, Kruse said.

He said the cards were meant to be a small token for the work the staff does and were paid for with surplus revenue from a special fund from book sales, fines and fee revenue. Finance Director Neal Vickers later said revenue from copying and printing fees was used.

One problem is the gift cards may have violated restrictions on the use of public funds, according to state officials.

The gratuities clause of the Georgia Constitution prohibits the use of public funds for gifts or bonuses, said Ronald Watson, director of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts’ education division. A state audit of the library probably would cite the purchase as improper, he said.

Any money that comes from library operations, which are state supported, should be invested in operations, and gift cards don’t qualify, Watson said. More from Savannah Now.

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Give Cash instead

I wonder if this would have come up if they had simply used those funds to give a holiday bonus?

No...

...a bonus could be classified as a payroll expense and not as a gift. It's the "g" word that upsets accountants and auditors.

We provide gift cards to certain outstanding volunteers each year. However, we pay for them out of funds that do not come from our municipal appropriation.

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