Directors At Hartford Library Vote To Freeze Hiring
By STEVE GOODE
October 07, 2008
The Hartford Public Library's board of directors has approved a temporary hiring freeze.
The move on Friday came after the recent posting of two vacant library positions. At the top pay levels, the total cost for the two positions would be about $130,000 a year.
"We did this as a result of our finances and realizing that this was not an opportune time for the city," board President Geraldine Sullivan said. "We need to see how things work out financially."
The city, which funds the library, recently announced a $6 million budget deficit from last year and an $8 million deficit in the current year. Facing an $870,000 shortfall in its $8.2 million budget for 2008-09, the library laid off 40 employees in July and closed the Mark Twain and Blue Hills neighborhood branches.
Unionized library employees helped the library close the budget gap by voting overwhelmingly to roll back pay raises and hours they had agreed to work this fiscal year. The move saved about $230,000. Some employees returned to work in September, and the branches reopened at reduced hours after the state provided $200,000.
Dave Ionno, vice president of AFSCME Local 1716, said Friday that he was disturbed by the postings after all the library system and its employees have been through.
"We saw it as a slap in the face. We made concessions and people got laid off," Ionno said.
Ionno lauded the library board's action Friday but said retiring chief librarian Louise Blalock should be held accountable for posting the positions in the first place.
"The hiring freeze was the least of what could have been done," he said. "I would have liked to see them take her to task."
When asked about the board's decision to freeze positions she considered important to getting library work done and achieving long-term goals, Blalock wrote in an e-mail Monday that the move was necessary to align the library with current city hiring practices and to control costs.
"It is a temporary freeze and I am hopeful that the library will be able to move forward with hiring in the months ahead," Blalock said.
The positions that were posted were a facilities planning manager and a development officer. Sullivan said Friday that while the positions will remain open for now, the library plans to fill them in the future.
The facilities planning manager's responsibilities would include taking charge of minor and major renovation work, new construction and expansion. The salary range is about $59,000 to $75,000 a year, according to the posting.
The development officer's duties would include financial resource development and fundraising, at a salary range of $40,000 to $54,000 annually, according to the posting.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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