The Letcher County Library District will raise salaries to a minimum of $10 per hour, using money that was already budgeted for raises that were not implemented in July, when the budget began.
Employees making over $10 per hour will get a 5 percent raise.
The move replaced a proposed across-the-board increase for all employees. Library District Board Member Howard Stanfill had pushed for larger increases. While his motion for a 6-percent raise for all employees was defeated, he succeeded in making the raise retroactive to the first of July.
Library Director Alita Vogel had given the board a sheet outlining the cost of giving raises of 3 percent, 5 percent, 50 cents an hour, and $1 an hour. A six-percent raise would cost about $20,000 a year, plus the increase in benefits, Vogel said. The district has nine part-time employees, who make between $8.24 and $9.55 an hour and work 20 hours or less per week, and eight full-time employees.
Vogel said the lowest-paid full-time employee makes $10.30 per hour and is taking the last class required for a state paraprofessional certification.
“I don’t see how they live,” Stanfill said. “I can’t see people making $9.55 and $8.”
Stanfill, a retired teacher, and counselor, said the employees should not be making that little. He suggested an even larger raise at first.
“This is a professional place and professional people, and they deserve it,” he said.
He said Pizza Hut restaurants have been advertising a starting wage of $12 per hour – nearly four dollars an hour more than the lowest-paid library employees.
“I think it’s a shame,” he said.
Board member Lina Tidal, who retired as director of the library several years ago, was opposed to the larger raises, saying the Letcher County Health Department is now in financial trouble. Like the Board of Health, the Library District is a special taxing district of the county.
Tidal had first advocated for 3-percent raises and opposed any retroactive raises. Board chair Jeanette Ladd suggested the board consider 3- or 5-percent raises, but Stanfill argued that 3 percent should not be considered.
The board finally agreed on five percent for employees making over $10 per hour, and an increase to $10 for those making less. The library district will also pay employees the extra amount they would have already been paid if the raises had started at the beginning of the budget year.
In other business, the board:
• Heard a report from Vogel that design is continuing on improvements to the Blackey Library, including any stabilization that might be needed to the riverbank behind the building and creation of a new emergency exit in the library workroom. Vogel said the architect had wanted to design solar collectors into the building but said she “had to rein him in.” She said the library isn’t ready to switch to solar power.
• Heard a report on the Jenkins library where there will also be a new emergency exit and a deck added. Vogel said there was no architect needed there and she is already sending out requests for proposals to contractors.
• Heard a request from Stanfill that the staff at the Harry M. Caudill Library in Whitesburg look into the condition of the genealogy materials after someone complained that some of the books were in poor condition. He said he plans to go to Letcher County Central High School and attempt to start a genealogy club for students to help them learn about local history, and that some might be willing to volunteer in the genealogy room at the library.