Director pay an issue at EBR library
The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board’s proposal to increase the salary scale of the library director to between $115,000 and $160,000 raised eyebrows on the Metro Council when it appeared on the June 13 agenda.
“Oh, come on,” Metro Councilman Rodney “Smokie” Bourgeois said when told about the proposal. “That’s more than the mayor makes.” In 2011, Mayor-President Kip Holden’s salary was $127,672.
Bourgeois wasn’t alone in his skepticism.
Fellow Councilman Scott Wilson said amending the pay plan now would start the city-parish on a slippery slope.
“If you look at that pay, you got to look at everybody’s,” Wilson said.
The new salary would be comparable to what the heads of BREC and the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau earn.
Paul Arrigo, president and CEO of the convention and visitors bureau, earned $145,800 in 2011, according to Lauralyn Maranto, the bureau’s vice president for administration and human resources. Arrigo can also earn 10 percent more in incentive-based compensation, Maranto said.
The annual budget for the convention and visitors bureau is about $3.8 million, Maranto noted.
BREC Director Carolyn McKnight earns $150,000 per year, according to parish parks system spokeswoman Kristi Barnett Williams. The annual budget for BREC, which operates 184 parks and facilities, is about $46.5 million, Williams said.
The library system has a projected 2012 budget of about $34.1 million on $38.2 million in expected revenue, according to the 2012 city-parish operating budget.
Currently, the pay scale for the library director ranges from $72,388 to $100,202 a year. Former Director David Farrar, who resigned in December, was slated to earn $89,000 this year.
Library officials say changing the pay scale of the position is necessary to attract the type of person with the experience and qualifications to succeed in the system’s vacant top spot. The search firm helping recruit a new director for the library system identified the current salary range as a hindrance, officials have said.
Library administrators argue that comparing salaries of directors of library systems of similar size shows how far behind the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s pay scale is.
According to data prepared by the Library Board of Control and presented to each council member, the director’s salary range lags behind the systems in Anne Arundel County, Md.; Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Dayton Metro Library in Ohio; Johnson County library in Kansas; Oakland Public Library in California; and Virginia Beach Library in Virginia.
The maximum current salary of the East Baton Rouge Parish library director is significantly less than the $110,000 a year the director of the Shreve Memorial Library in Shreveport earns and the $139,900 earned by the director of the New Orleans Public Library, which both serve smaller populations, according to the data compiled by the Library Board.
Councilman Wilson remained unimpressed.
“I am probably not going to vote for it,” he said.
Fellow Councilwoman Alison Gary said she, too, was examining the issue “from a somewhat skeptical perspective” but added that she remained undecided.
“I want us to have the best possible library,” she said.
The full Metro Council is expected to vote on the amendment June 27.
Faimon Roberts covers city-parish government for The Advocate. He can be reached at