Survey Reveals Salaries and Benefits Are In Line With Other Local Public Employees
TELLURIDE - In the past year as it has wrestled with declining tax revenues, the Wilkinson Public Library has been criticized for offering allegedly high salaries and benefits. But a survey conducted by library officials revealed that the library’s pay scale and benefits packages are in line with the employees of the Telluride Medical Center, Telluride R-1 School District and the regional governments.
The library’s insurance benefits, interim director Brenda Carns told the library board of trustees last week, are similar to public libraries in Steamboat Springs and Pueblo.
Carns also reported library wages have fallen behind the state’s recommendation for the increases to keep up with the cost of living.
“The library is .45 percent behind Colorado State’s recommended cost of living wage increase in 2014,” she told the board, adding that nine employees have left the library in 2012. While this substantial loss helped ease the library’s strained budget, it left the library without many of the skills the former staff members provided.
Stating that she did not want this kind of loss to occur again, Carns recommended to the board examine a potential wage increase in the 2014 to remain a competitive public employer in San Miguel County. That recommendation is currently under review by the board.
The discussion of potential wage increases come as the library’s 2014 draft budget reports a projected decrease in tax revenue of 15 percent, or $350,000, from the year before. Due to a smaller staff, total wages and salaries will shrink by $64,000.
The library has partially offset the drop in revenues by tapping into its reserves.
The final 2014 budget reading and approval is scheduled for Dec. 12.
This summer, the library board conducted a survey asking patrons and taxpayers about their priorities. Carns used the survey data to guide her budget drafting process. Among her recommendations, Carns last month recommended to the board it it reopen on Sundays starting Dec. 1. The board agreed unanimously.
The library will be holding a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. where the board will take public comment regarding the search for the permanent library director position. A special board meeting on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. will work on the budget, and the trustees are slated to approve the 2014 budget on Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.
Seth Cagin is a Wilkinson Public Library trustee and the co-publisher of the Watch. He did not contribute to the reporting or editing of this story.