BREC superintendent gets new contract, pay raise

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Carolyn McKnight-Bray, BREC superintendent.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Carolyn McKnight-Bray, BREC superintendent.

East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously Thursday to renew Superintendent Carolyn McKnight’s contract with a 4.6 percent pay increase.

Under her initial contract, McKnight was paid $150,000 a year, an auto allowance, health insurance benefits and 100 hours of paid annual leave. Under her two-year extension, McKnight will receive the same benefits and $157,000 salary.

“We’re pleased with her work,” BREC Chairman Kenny Riche said. “I think she’s a great face for BREC. She sells us wherever we go.”

McKnight, 57, took over as parks superintendent in January 2012, following the retirement of longtime administrator Bill Palmer.

Before coming to Baton Rouge, McKnight spent 24 years working in administrative positions in the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department and served in administrative roles for the city of Dallas.

During McKnight’s two-year tenure, BREC has been wrapping up its 10-year Imagine Your Parks plan that has led to a $70.5 million overhaul of the park’s system, funded by a dedicated 20-year tax approved by voters in 2004.

“I’m excited to still be able to do so much work for the community,” McKnight said of her contract renewal Wednesday. “It’s a big year for us. The plate overflows.”

BREC announced this month the kickoff of Imagine Your Parks 2: Better Parks, Better Living — a strategic plan that will guide the system through 2024, and voters will decide in April whether to renew 6.2 mills in property taxes for BREC, which would generate an estimated $22.9 million to pay for capital improvements and general operating expenses.

BREC also is in the process of reviewing employee compensation to address disparities.

Another of McKnight’s upcoming duties will be to begin the process of finding a new finance director for BREC, though no official hiring timeline for the position has been set.

Sheila Savoy, who took on that role in 2011, left BREC last month to take a job with the state, according to BREC spokeswoman Cheryl Michelet. Corey Wilson, who serves as chief of Management and Business Services, is covering those duties until a new finance director is hired.