Chesterton Tribune



Library board adds 3 percent employee raise to budget

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The Westchester Public Library Board approved a new draft of the 2021 budget at its meeting Thursday that included a three percent raise for employees.

After discussion in June about whether or not to figure annual raises into the 2021 budget with economic uncertainty looming ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board unanimously approved a version of the budget that gives employees a three percent cost of living adjustment. WPL has historically given an annual two percent cost of living adjustment.

WPL’s total 2021 budget is $3,834.112. A three percent cost of living adjustment would cost $45,729.21 if all 80 positions at WPL were staffed, which they are not.

Library Director Lisa Stamm reported the Department of Local Government Finance is recommending WPL plan as if it will be fully funded in 2021 but know that the negative effects of the pandemic could affect the budget over the next few years.

Stamm said staff have been working harder than normal to operate the library safely amid COVID-19 and extra pay is warranted especially as they now have the added risk of interacting with the public.

The other major change Stamm noted is she shifted funds from the Repairs and Maintenance line item to increase Cleaning and Sanitation Supplies from $30,000 in 2020 to $75,000 in 2021.

Board member Michele Corazzo complimented Stamm for her work on the budget. “I think you did an excellent job getting it all pulled together,” she said. Stamm said staff will appreciate the Board-approved raise and some have also told her they’re grateful the Board approved her policy requiring masks in library buildings.

In other finance business, Stamm reported WPL has spent a total of $10,696.50 on COVID-19 related expenses such as extra cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, and materials for curbside pickup and reopening.

Librarian’s Report

Stamm reported there has been little foot traffic since WPL reopened to the public July 6, but patrons who have come in are following social distancing and mask requirements so far. Furniture was rearranged, hanging protective barriers were built and installed at service desks, and signs were put up in preparation for reopening. Each staff member has been issued five reusable masks and a face shield.

Stamm noted the Westchester Township History Museum is not open yet because it will require its own plan, as a much smaller space than the Thomas and Hageman branches. Meeting rooms are also not available for use, as they pose an extra risk to patrons and staff as confined spaces, and they’re also being used to quarantine returned materials.

InHealth returned WPL’s 3D printer in good repair on June 11, Stamm said. WPL loaned the printer to InHealth shortly after the Library closed to the public, and it enabled them to print components for 2,000 N-95 equivalent masks, according to Stamm.

There were 1,277 curbside pickups at the Thomas Branch and 145 at Hageman during June. WPL hosted 36 virtual programs that received 1,824 views. Stamm said she and staff are exploring ways to host socially-distanced and safe outdoor programing. In the meantime, curbside craft kits are available, and the summer concert series has moved to a virtual format.


Posted 7/13/2020









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