A proposed $34.4 million budget for the East Baton Rouge Parish library system for next year includes 58 new positions, mostly to staff two new library branches expected to open next year.
Library System Executive Director David Farrar presented the proposed budget to the system’s Board of Control during a special meeting Monday.
The board will vote on the proposal at its next regular meeting June 16.
It also requires the approval of the Metro Council, which will consider the spending plan when it adopts an overall budget for city-parish government in December.
Farrar told board members that 44 of the new positions in the proposed budget for 2012 are required to staff the Rouzan Branch Library on Perkins Road and the Fairwood Branch Library on Old Hammond Highway.
The library system also wants to add four positions to its facility operations and maintenance staff, Farrar said.
He said that would be less expensive than the indirect costs the city-parish assesses the library for having the services provided through the Department of Public Works.
The library system, which includes a main library and 12 branches, will have a total staff of 542 full-time and part-time employees if the budget is approved, according to the budget proposal.
The library system’s proposed budget for 2012 also includes $357,410 to provide 3 percent step increases for library system employees.
The library board shot down one of Farrar’s proposals: to make the position of deputy library director a classified position, offering greater job protections.
Farrar said most deputy director positions at other libraries are classified, and it is important for the person holding it feel that his job is secure.
Board members Stan Bardwell, Tanya Freeman and Derek Gordon questioned the wisdom of making the No. 2 position classified.
Among other things, they cited potential for conflict if a new director was hired at some point in the future who would not be able to choose his own deputy.
“I think that’s going backward, quite frankly,” Bardwell said. “I think it’s a terrible, terrible mistake.”
Farrar said he understood the board’s concerns and would drop the idea.
A dedicated, 11.1-mill property tax funds all but a small portion of the library system’s budget.
The proposed budget of $34.4 million for 2012 is down sharply from the $53.8 million budget for this year.
Farrar said the difference in this year’s budget includes a $19 million capital outlay to build a new downtown library branch to replace the existing one near City Hall.