At last night’s Library Board of Trustees’ meeting, The Roselle Park Library Board of Trustees voted to freeze promotions and pay raises for the remainder of 2011 for library employees. This action, moved under resolutions 05-11 and 06-11, was taken in response to Resolution 04-11 which proposed to promote Kathleen ‘Kit’ Rubino to full-time position of Library Associate with an accompanying 9.5% raise of $3,283.
The recommendation for promotion was made by Library Director Susan Calantone who commented, “I feel that she goes over and beyond her position and I felt that she should be promoted and since nobody is getting raises this year I felt this was a way to, at least, show that we’re serious about the work that she does.”
Library Board President Andrew Casais read from a prepared statement regarding his thoughts on the resolution where he mentioned that he believed that Ms. Rubino does her job exceptionally well but felt that the Board must go beyond the personal. He stated, “As government officials we have the obligation to ask ourselves two questions before we render any decision, especially this one. First, is it the right thing to do and second, is it the fair thing to do?”
Mr. Casais went on to cite that other municipal entities were asked to take a 20% budget cut and that a formal written performance review was not conducted. He stated, “We have a job to do and we can’t be selective about how we do it… Spending more money without necessarily increasing services should never be a viable option.”
Board member Elisa Miranda asked how long was it since promotions were given to library employees. Ms. Calantone stated that the last time was two (2) years ago.
“What is the difference between that and this?” Mrs. Miranda asked.
“Well there’s different steps and since she does so much I figured maybe we could give her a little bit more … promote her another step,” Ms. Calantone responded.
Laura Hahn, the Board secretary, inquired about the lack of review credentials that did not accompany the recommendation, “I trust that she’s doing a great job because I’ve heard so much about it. And I know her personally and I know she’s a great worker and she does so much for this library but how do we know what she’s doing?”
Ms. Calantone addressed the concern and answered, “Because I think you have to value what the Library Director says.”
“Let’s say if she goes above and beyond,” Ms. Hahn continued, “Who’s to say that another employee doesn’t go above and beyond as well and are we going to be giving promotions out to each person now just because they do a couple of things that are little bit more than what the job description entails?”
“I don’t know,” Ms. Calantone said, “Maybe.”
“We don’t have the money to do it,” continued the Board President, “We just don’t.”
“I trust you,” Mrs. Miranda added, referring to Ms. Calantone’s recommendation, “I think that you have the best interest at heart for this library and for the employees. It’s just that giving out the money right now.”
The discussion continued with respect to the library’s financial matters. Mr. DeIorio projected a $40,000 shortfall, which might result in reducing the library day or fewer books if money is not used from the library’s current surplus. He added, “If someone figures out or makes the connection that someone got promoted while things are being shut, it sends a message.”
“That’s fine,” Ms. Calantone finished, “I just brought it up. In your conscience, you do what you feel is right. We don’t need a discussion, just say ‘no’.”
After a recommendation by Mr. DeIorio, the resolution was not moved, thereby removing the need for a majority vote against the resolution.
Then Resolutions 05-11, which instituted a wage freeze for 2011, and 06-11, which implemented a freeze on promotions for the remainder of the year, were introduced. There was some discussion on the wording of the resolutions which referred to library employees as Board employees.
“They’re not Board employees,” Mr. DeIorio stated, “They’re employees of the library. It’s like when you pass a resolution for someone in town, you don’t say employee of Mayor & Council; it’s employee of the Borough of Roselle Park.”
With a vote of five (5) ‘yes’ votes and two (2) abstentions, both resolutions were passed.