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Library trust raises issue about trustee compensenation

A recent case in Queens, New York, has raised questions about compensation for trustees of a public library. On July 23, the borough president used her authority to dismiss six of the 19 trustees tasked with the stewardship of the Queens Library board. The borough president said that she took the preemptive action to remove those trustees because they had supported the library's president amid growing allegations of his lavish spending.

According to published reports, the library president and chief executive officer currently makes about $390,000 per year in his current position. Allegations have surfaced that the president also recently spent $140,000 on the renovation of his library office. All of this comes at a time when the president was reportedly also receiving a salary of $115,000 from another job in addition to his position at the library.

Until recently, New York law did not specifically prohibit certain actions the library president was taking, but the Queens Borough President says that the trustees failed in their duties to act to safeguard taxpayer money.

In New York State, trustee commissions are set forth in established by SCPA section 2309(2). That statute basically says that unless specifically stated, a trustee is entitled to a commission rate of 5 percent on the first $100,000 in the estate, 4 percent on the next $200,000, 3 percent on the next $700,000, 2.5 percent on the next $4,000,000 and 2 percent on any amount above $5,000,000.

It would be interesting to see if the trustees who were recently removed from the library board were receiving payment in excess of those amounts and whether the trust specified a different compensation.

Beneficiaries concerned about the amount of trustee compensation the executors of their trust are currently receiving should consult with their attorney regarding the matter. The trustees may be unjustly enriching themselves at the beneficiary's detriment.

Source: DNAInfo New York, "8 Queens Library Trustees Removed Amid Investigations" Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Jul. 24, 2014

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