The board that oversees East Baton Rouge Parish’s library system approved a 2013 budget on Thursday that includes $2.5 million for a new building but removes $2 million for a proposed downtown parking garage.
In passing the $44 million budget, the Library Board of Control approved the addition of 12 positions and $1.8 million for a new “Radio Frequency Identification” electronic tagging system for books and other materials, which would take the place of the current bar code system.
A new building would be used to provide storage space and to house the Bookmobile staff and some other departments that are outgrowing current facilities, said Mary Stein, the library system’s co-director.
Board member Stanford O. Bardwell, who had proposed including money in the budget for a parking garage, said Thursday he did it “just for discussion.”
“I thought it was pretty obvious that we need parking space down there,” he said. “This was simply formalizing something that came up three years ago.”
The proposed garage, at St. Ferdinand Street and North Boulevard, would have been shared by the library, the 19th Judicial District Court and the city-parish, Bardwell said. All three would have shared in the cost of building of the facility.
The project has never progressed beyond the discussion stage, said John Carpenter, Mayor-President Kip Holden’s chief administrator.
“We have had a number of meetings over the last two to three years, and explored some possibilities,” Carpenter said.
“We have never come up with a workable financial plan.”
Bardwell said talks with court administrators led him to the same conclusion.
“It’s not ready to be spent, in the foreseeable future anyway,” Bardwell said.
“The project is kind of in a hold.”
The library’s 2013 budget projects a reduction in revenue of about $1.7 million to $36.5 million.
The system will use money from its fund balance to make up the difference between revenue and expenditures.
In other business, Bardwell said he and other board members will continue to meet with members of the Metro Council to answer concerns about a proposal to raise the pay scale of the library director.
The position has been vacant since former director David Farrar resigned late last year. Assistant directors Stein and Patricia Husband are filling the job on an interim basis.
The Library Board has retained a search firm to conduct a national search for a possible replacement.
The search firm has identified the current salary — $72,388 to $100,202 per year — as a possible hindrance in the recruiting a new director, library officials have said.
The Library Board has asked the Metro Council to approve increasing the pay scale to $115,000 to $160,000.
The council deferred the item in June and will take it up at its July 25 meeting.
“We are continuing to discuss with council members what their concerns are and what we might do to address them,” Bardwell said.