MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) – Fake library records could have cost taxpayers in Manitowoc thousands of dollars.
In July, the former director of the Manitowoc Public Library stepped down after she was accused of creating fake library accounts to check books in and out.
Each year, on average, the roughly 9,000 library card holders in the Manitowoc-Calumet Library System check out about 500,000 or 600,000 books. Over the past few years, investigators are finding some of that was fake.
Every time a book is checked out, that’s a circulation. In just a span of a few years, there were more than 20,000 fake circulations reported.
The librarian accused of creating those fake accounts was taking advantage of a state law that requires municipalities to reimburse other municipalities when their residents cross city limits to check out a book.
She created accounts using fake names and addresses and used them to check out thousands of books.
In 2014 she did it 1,500 times.
“If it’s 1,500, that equates to about $4,200 that we overpaid,” Todd Reckelberg, Manitowoc County Comptroller, said.
In 2015, that number multiplied to 10,100 and 12,000 in 2016.
“In dollars and cents if it wouldn’t have been caught we’re looking at over $30,000,” Reckelberg said. “$30,000 that we would be taxing the outlying taxpayers that we shouldn’t.”
The county already paid the $4,200 to the library after looking at 2014’s numbers.
“We’ll have to figure out how to get that back,” said Reckelberg.
It said it’ll make sure it’s not paying too much from the other two years’ overcompensated numbers.
“We can catch that and prevent that from happening,” Reckelberg said.
Now, the library is making sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“Right now I am going through every Manitowoc County patron and verifying that it is in the correct municipality and looking for any unusual activity,” said Margie Verhelst, who has been digging through data at the Manitowoc-Calumet Library System.