An online ad soliciting applications for director of the East Baton Rouge Parish library system lists the “starting salary” as more than $100,000, which is the maximum salary for the position under the current pay structure.
A candidate paid $100,202 would be at the top of the approved pay range, making him ineligible for raises, said Rhonda Pinsonat, the library system’s finance director.
The Library Board of Control, at the recommendation of a national search firm, has asked that the library director’s pay scale be boosted by more than 50 percent to attract highly qualified applicants. However, the Metro Council deferred action on the proposal until July 25 and it’s unclear whether it will be approved.
Under the proposal, the minimum salary would be $115,000 and the maximum would be $160,000. If the Metro Council rejects the proposal, the minimum salary for the position will remain at $72,388 and the maximum at $100,202.
“It’s splitting hairs,” Mary Stein, the library system’s Co-director, said of the pay listing in the online ad. “Technically, we can offer them more than $100,000.”
The firm the library board hired to conduct a national search for a new director helped craft the ad, according to Stanford O. Bardwell, a member of the board who is on the search committee.
“It’s truthful, but probably a little misleading,” Bardwell said. “They were deliberately vague” when they wrote it, he said.
Compensation for the position will be “commensurate with qualifications and experience,” and will include “an attractive benefits package,” according to the ad.
Benefits include use of a laptop, cellphone and car or $4,800 yearly auto allowance, Bardwell said.
The deadline for applying for the position was extended to July 27 to allow the Metro Council’s time to vote on the proposal to increase the pay scale for the position, Bardwell said. The original deadline was July 15.
At least two council members — Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker and Chandler Loupe — said Tuesday they opposed the proposal.
“I don’t think we need to be in a hurry to give pay increases to anybody,” Walker said, a sentiment shared by Loupe.
Loupe said he understands the desire to attract qualified applicants but said he thought the library board could probably get a good candidate with pay at current levels.
The increased salary is necessary to attract top-flight talent for the position, library officials and board members have said.
Bardwell said the pay issue needs to be resolved for the search process to be effective.
“I would imagine it’s difficult to get any significant interest when the first question is how much does it pay and we say we don’t know,” Bardwell said.
The library is seeking a replacement for David Farrar, who resigned late last year 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.
A judge threw out the jury’s conviction on the two sex abuse charges but let stand the impersonating conviction, for which Farrar received a three-year suspended sentence.
Farrar earned about $89,000.
The Library Board has hired Kansas City, Mo., search firm Bradbury Associates/Gossage Sager Associates to conduct the search on their behalf.
A criminal background check, credit check and drug screening are part of the application process, the job ad says. Similar checks were not performed when Farrar was hired.
The search firm had received 24 applications through July 15, said Dan Bradbury, managing partner with the firm.
“A good many are not qualified — or are not fully qualified,” Bradbury said in an email.
The firm will narrow the applicant pool to “five-to-seven” semifinalists, whose names will be forwarded to the Library Board of Control, Stein said.
Semifinalist interviews could be held in mid to late August, she said.
Library board members and administrators have said that the hiring of the search firm was necessary to help vet potential replacements for Farrar.