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North Dakota state Capitol

The North Dakota state Capitol in Bismarck is offset by flowers in full bloom in June 2018.

North Dakota's State Library violated state law in how it handled some appropriations and state aid to public libraries, according to an audit that state Auditor Josh Gallion released Monday.

The audit found the library inconsistently charged costs to grants that should have been charged to operating expenses in its 2017-19 budget. When corrected, the library was over its operating expenses by $16,000, though it didn't exceed its overall budget.

In the state's last two-year budget cycle, the State Library also exceeded state aid to public libraries by $19,000 in not accurately calculating a distribution. The 2017 Legislature had budgeted $1.7 million for the aid.

The library also "misspent" more than $12,000 on two public libraries ineligible for state aid, according to the audit.

The library in addition used incorrect tax information to calculate financial aid instead of ensuring the applications had been certified by city and county auditors. One public library was overpaid about $10,000 each in 2018 and 2019, while other libraries were underpaid.

"The State Library has an opportunity to improve how they manage public dollars," Gallion said in a statement. “I encourage the Library to address the issues we identified and make the necessary corrections to ensure compliance with the law.”

The library in its responses to the audit findings agreed with Gallion's recommendations.

"We are in compliance with the recommendations and have taken measures to do what needs to be done to meet those recommendations," Assistant State Librarian Cindy Clairmont-Schmidt told the Tribune.

The State Library is a repository for public reading materials and state documents. The library also administers grants and provides assistance to public libraries throughout North Dakota.

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Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Capitol Reporter