Weathersfield Library Trustees Approve Double Digit Increases for Library Director and Overall FY2019 Budget

January 15, 2018
Weathersfield, Vermont

On Sunday, Jan. 14 at a Special Budget Meeting, the Weathersfield Proctor Library Board of Trustees approved double digit increases for the Library Director wages and the overall FY2019 operating budget.

In a three to one vote (the Chair only votes to break a tie or for a quorum) the Library Director wage line item was increased from $34,207 for FY2018 to $45,478 for FY2019, an increase of 32.9%. This wage increase was first presented to the board at a Dec. 3, 2017 meeting with the town manager, Ed Morris. The town manager and Chair of the Trustees Rick Bates met earlier and arrived at the $45,478 by comparing other library director wages around the state of Vermont for towns of similar size to Weathersfield.

There was little or no discussion of the increase at the Dec. 3 or Dec. 21 (regular trustee monthly meeting) meetings and no negotiations took place between the Library Director and the Board of Trustees. Votes to finalize the budget at these meetings could not take place because "clean copies" of the budget, including the increase in benefits associated with the proposed wage increases were not provided to the trustees by the town manager.

After reading the minutes of the select board meeting on Jan. 8, the trustees called another Special Meeting to finalize the FY2091 budget on Sunday, Jan. 14. A copy of the "adjusted" budget was provided to the trustees late Saturday night for the Sunday afternoon vote.

Some confusion has arisen over the total percent  increase in the wage. The FY2018 wage line item was erroneously listed in the 2015-2016 town report. The Trustees approved a wage of $35,193, however $34,207 was reported in the town report.  $34,207 is the amount the taxpayers approved at town meeting on March 7, 2017. Therefore the FY2019 line item reflects an increase is 32.9%.

This 32.9% increase in wage includes adding eight hours to the director's 32 hour work week (the library is open to the public 26 hours weekly), bringing the library director's hours to 40 and an hourly increase of 72 cents. These eight hours have not been clearly defined and it does not appear that the library will be open for more hours to the public.

The town manager has suggested to the trustees that the eight hours be used to assist him "in doing some things he no longer has time to do." It was suggested that the library director work on the recreation department, help promote the town through organizing various events and to write a town-wide newsletter. This has not been presented in writing and the trustees have not approved these suggestions.

The overall budget is up 16% from  FY2018's budget of $110,724 to  FY2019 budget of $128, 448. Approval for this increase passed in a vote of 3 to 1.

The budget includes modest wage increases for the Assistant Librarian and the Youth Services Librarian of 2%. (The rate of inflation has been running just under 2%.)

The Trustees plan to present this budget to the select board at the select board meeting this evening at 7 p.m. in Martin Memorial Hall's basement. The meeting is open to the public.

Full disclosure-I am a member of the Board of Trustees and I was the dissenting vote on the two votes listed above.

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