The board that oversees East Baton Rouge’s public library system is preparing to defend its proposal to dramatically increase the pay range for the director, a move consultants have recommended to attract a top-tier candidate.
The Library Board of Control also welcomed two new members after the departures of Beth Tomlinson and Chip Mills.
The director pay proposal will go before the Metro Council on Wednesday.
The pay range for library director is $72,388 to $100,202. The board is proposing that the council approve a new pay range of $115,588 to $160,000 for the position.
“We will marshal our thinking and forces to present the best case for the increase,” board member Stanford O. Bardwell said.
The Metro Council can do three things with the proposal: “Grant it as requested, kill it, or modify it to something they are more comfortable with,” Bardwell told fellow Library Board of Control members during the board’s regular meeting Thursday. “We will try to gauge where their thinking is on that and try to discuss the options as best we can.”
The position of director is being filled by acting co-directors Mary Stein and Patricia Husband while the board searches for a replacement for former director David Farrar.
Farrar resigned in December after information became public about a 15-year-old criminal case in Alabama in which he was accused of sexual abuse and impersonating a police officer.
Board members have said that the search firm hired to recruit a new director identified the position’s low pay as a hindrance to hiring a qualified person.
Some members of the Metro Council have vowed to vote against raising the position’s pay.
Councilman Rodney “Smokie” Bourgeois has said he thought it was wrong to pay the library director more than the mayor, while council member Scott Wilson said changing the salary of one person would mean all salaries in the parish would have to be reviewed.
The board also welcomed new members Melanie Way and Travis Woodard.
Way, who owns a consulting business, said she applied to the board because she has always had a “passion for the library.”
Woodard said he looked forward to serving and thanked the staff for helping him learn all he needed to learn for his new role.
During her monthly report to the board on the status of library projects, Stein told the board that the $1.5 million architect contract for the new $19 million River Center Library had been signed and executed, and an initial meeting had been held.
Board member Tanya Freeman asked Stein when library board members would have an opportunity to “give our input on what is going to go on at the downtown library.” Stein responded that meetings with stakeholders, including members of the library board, would begin within 60 days.
Stein also said crews poured concrete early Wednesday for the second floor of the new main library at Independence Park, just to the north of its current location on Goodwood Boulevard. The new facility is expected to be completed in fall 2013, and to open sometime in 2014, Stein said.