OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Town officials and the trustees of Libby Memorial Library are in a standoff over the town manager’s plan to take over the library’s finances.

Town Manager Mark Pearson said last month that the town would no longer transfer money to the library’s accounts because of an ongoing investigation of the organization’s finances and allegations that a significant amount of money was misappropriated from library accounts.

Instead, Pearson said, the library would turn over bills and payroll records to the town, which would pay them.

Old Orchard Beach police are investigating allegations that money disappeared during the time the library’s books were kept by Linda Jenkins, who died at the age of 53 last month, a few days before bank officials alerted the library about possible misappropriations.

Jenkins was the library’s bookkeeper for about seven years, until her health began to fail earlier this year.

A letter from Lee Koenigs, the library’s interim director, refers to “unexplained withdrawals from one of (the library’s) accounts, which was seldom used.” Koenigs did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Officials have declined to say how much money may have been misappropriated.

Library officials have said they are cooperating with the investigation but are resisting Pearson’s decision on the finances.

In late March, Koenigs told Pearson that the library’s accounts and records couldn’t be turned over to the town until an audit was complete, according to a letter obtained by The Portland Press Herald under a Freedom of Access Act request.

About three weeks after Koenigs wrote the letter, the library’s treasurer, Alice Langdon, asked for the town’s usual quarterly allocation of town funds, which had been due April 1. The town is providing about $225,000 to the library this year, in quarterly installments.

On April 18, Langdon asked for an “emergency executive session” with the Town Council, saying the board’s bylaws “hinder taking the action presented to the board by the town manager.”

Town Council Chair Robert Quinn said he doesn’t know of anything in the bylaws that would prohibit the library from transferring control of its finances to the town, and the council won’t hold a meeting until the board decides what it wants to do.

Quinn said the council backs Pearson’s decision to have the town take control of the library’s accounts.

Jerome Plante, the chairman of the library board, said he wants to have the board draft a memorandum of understanding to govern the relationship between the town and the library board.

“I have no conflict with the town (about) improving our accounting processes,” Plante said. “I can’t imagine we won’t resolve this.”

But Pearson said he has no interest in signing a memorandum of understanding. He said the library trustees are “trying to do an end-around” by trying to negotiate with the council.

“The library and the whole organization is under investigation and it would be premature for me to sign any memorandum of understanding” until that’s resolved, Pearson said. “This is a standoff under the threat of closing the library.”

Plante said he doesn’t know of any threats to close the library.

Pearson said he proposed having the library handle its accounts until its funds were exhausted. Since the town didn’t make its normal quarterly deposit on April 1, he assumes that the funds are mostly gone. He said the library hasn’t turned over any bills or payroll records for the town to pay.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]