Wood County Library trustees approve raises all around

Library Director Michael Penrod and Treasurer Linda Joseph of the Wood County District Public Library.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Library employees from bottom to the top will have a bit extra to be thankful for this week.

The Wood County District Library Board of Trustees Monday voted to give 2.5-percent raises to Library Director Michael Penrod and Treasurer Linda Joseph and to increase the amount of money for salaries by 3 percent. Penrod and Joseph also each received a one-time $500 bonus for their work on seeing the Walbridge Library renovation to completion.

Penrod’s raise brings his salary to $86,275 a year.

Board member Nathan Eikost said of Penrod: “Your heart is in this community, and it really shows.”

The raise, he noted, puts Penrod closer to where he as an individual, and where the library director’s position, needs to be in comparison to peers statewide.

Board President Brian Paskvan said the library survey found that the average salary for a public library director is $87,212.  That figure has been adjusted to minimize the impact of several highly paid “outliers.”

While this raise doesn’t get Penrod the average, it is a step, Paskvan said.

Joseph’s pay will increase to $28.20 an hour from $27.51.

“What you get done in your part-time hours is what most people get done in full-time plus,” Paskvan said.

He noted that the library had with the year winding down only spent 84 percent of its 2017 budget.

As an attorney, Marcin works for a number of municipalities and it is unheard of to have such clean audits so consistently.

Trustee John Fawcett said that Joseph helped him as a new trustee understand “the very convoluted financial policy” that governs libraries.

Penrod noted that increasing the salary pool by 3 percent over what was appropriated last year does not mean uniform 3-percent raises. That money will be used to address the increase in the minimum wage, and then adjusting salaries above that. The pool also includes the money for his and Joseph’s increases.

Employees who get health insurance will be paying more. The trustees voted to continue getting coverage from Paramount. The library’s cost of the coverage will go up 9.7 percent. Employees’ share for coverage will increase to $49 a pay period, or $1,274 a year, from $45 a pay period, $1,170 a year, just under 9 percent more. The plan calls for $1,000 deductible, but the library will reimburse employees for anything over $300 they spend. Employees can get family coverage, but that is not subsidized by library.

Penrod said given the changes in the insurance market, he asked insurance consultant Ben Otley to shop around to other companies. All other options had increases more than double of what renewing with Paramount would cost.

The trustees also approved temporary appropriations. This budget, Penrod said, will be very close to the permanent appropriations that will be acted on in March. This represents all “the hard work” of determining what the library will spend in 2018.

The budget calls for spending $2,970,938. Estimated revenues are $2,971,000. Penrod said the revenue estimates are conservative. The library is expecting its state funding to be flat for the next two years.

Spending on staff, $1,608,988, which includes salaries and benefits, represents 54.2 percent of the budget.

He said he was proud that the library spend 14.6 percent on its materials budget. That’s more than the national average of 11.5 percent.

He said he calculates how much to spend by taking 4 percent of what’s expected from the state Public Library Fund and the local levy plus all that’s raised by the Library Foundation’s annual fundraiser at Schedel Gardens.

The library also has a number of maintenance projects. A building as large and complex as the library will also have maintenance issues to address, Penrod said.

Paskvan also announced that the Friends of the Library will be working to bolster the library’s visiting authors programming. He said the idea is to bring in more high profile writers who would, as with the case with Sherman Alexie last April, pack the Performing Arts Center.

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