Chesterton Tribune



Library budget includes salary bumps

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The Westchester Public Library Board voted 6-0 Thursday in favor of advertising the proposed 2017 budget with increases in salaries for the public hearing in October.

The board met an hour early on Thursday to look at the work done by a salary committee comprised of WPL Director Leea Yelich and board members Kathryn Cochran and Michele Corazzo, after months of contemplating raises to bring salaries more in line with other library systems.

The largest increases proposed occur in the salaries of supervisory assistants whose salaries have remained about the same as they were 20 years ago, ranging from $25,500 to $42,716 for 2016. For next year, those salaries would range from $33,150 to $55,531, according to the committee’s suggestions.

Salaries in the past have generally been increased by 2 percent, but some for 2017 year may be increased by as much as 30 percent.

Board member Drew Rhed asked about the steeper figure boosts, especially when some of the employees have only been in their positions for about a year. “It’s a large jump for not having lost anybody,” he said.

Rhed said he agrees with the notion of raises, as he was one of the first proponents, but told his colleagues they should be ready to give an explanation to the public of their reasons.

Board member Abbe Trent said they looked at what other libraries pay their employees in similar positions.

“We should raise our standards and be more competitive,” Trent said.

Even with the raises, WPL will still be in the low to medium range in comparison to other pay scales, said Cochran. “We have experience and experience is valuable,” she said.

Rhed said he does get that the reason is to have “a more equalized playing field.”

Board member Nick Tilden said the salary study “demonstrates where (WPL) lacks” and said now is when “we have an excellent time to fix it.”

“This work hasn’t been done in a very long time,” he said.

The final salary figure proposed in the 2017 budget is $1,946,625 compared to $1,803,800 for the current year. The changes also increased the dollar amount of FICA and PERF employee benefits, although the amount budgeted for the group insurance decreased from $370,000 to $300,000.

Benefits were another factor that went into deciding salaries, Yelich said. The level of responsibility in the refurbished job descriptions was another.

The WPL 2017 budget’s total figure to be advertised is $3.306 million which includes the state’s 3.8 percent growth quotient. The 2016 budget estimate was $3.184 million.

In other matters Thursday:

-- Yelich said Sunday, Oct. 23 is the tentative date for the Library Service Center renaming ceremony. The LSC will be called The Baugher Center in honor of retired WPL Director Phil Baugher who will be at the ceremony.

-- WPL on Monday, Aug. 15, will go live with the Statewide Remote Circulation Service (SRCS), one of 67 libraries to do so. With SRCS, a “virtual union catalog” will be created for patrons to request materials from other libraries around the state. Yelich said WPL will only be loaning items from its general adult collections that it’s had for one year. WPL will still use its current ILL system for resident and non-resident patrons’ requests unable to be fulfilled through SRCS.

-- Pokemon Go fever has made its way to WPL. Every Friday, both Thomas and Hageman branches and the Westchester Twp. History Museum become Pokemon lure sites to attract Pokemon in the area. Over 600 “Pokeprizes” have been given so far.

-- WPL’s Snack Program served 1,247 free snacks to kids this summer and the finisher rate for the Children’s Summer Reading program increased by 45.5 percent.

-- The board passed an annual resolution to participate in the Indiana State Library Consortium which makes WPL qualify for eRate funding.


Posted 8/12/2016





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