Basalt library director makes new concession
BASALT – The executive director of the Basalt Regional Library has volunteered to surrender some of her benefits package in addition to paring some of her housing stipend, it was disclosed at a library board of directors meeting Monday night.
Kristen Becker had previously agreed to a reduction of her housing stipend from $30,000 to $20,000. Now she has agreed to reduce her benefits package next year by about $7,000, board vice president Taylor Liebmann said. Board president Judy Royer said Becker currently receives about $15,000 in her benefits package. The types of benefits weren’t discussed.
Becker’s salary, housing stipend and benefits have come under scrutiny from a group of library patrons who have been seeking various reforms. They have already won concessions to get hours of operations restored and more money spent on collections. Members of the group are now scrutinizing the library’s budget and the board’s professionalism.
Monday’s meeting was cordial, if somewhat strained. About 25 members of the public attended, many affiliated with the concerned citizens group.
Liebmann acknowledged the group’s concerns over Becker’s $105,000 salary and her other perks. “I know that was a huge bone of contention for a lot of people,” he said.
Becker was hired before the recession hit. It was a time when the library district had difficulty attracting and retaining candidates for its executive director position because of the high cost of housing and living in general in the Roaring Fork Valley. Becker was hired at the high end of the salary range for the open position.
“Kristen brought with her a lot of additional experience,” Liebmann said.
Becker had previously defended her salary by noting she didn’t negotiate; she accepted the offer. In addition, she said she took on additional duties after an administrative assistant left and the position wasn’t filled.
Becker also said in an interview last week that her salary wasn’t out of line with the salaries of the library executive directors in Pitkin County and Garfield County.
Board member Liz Gremillion challenged that point at Monday’s meeting. She said the Pitkin County Library executive director has been in her position for 32 years, so it isn’t a fair comparison. The Garfield County librarian oversees “six or seven” branches, Germillion noted, so she has broader responsibilities.
Becker’s performance will be under scrutiny again at next month’s meeting of the library board of directors when the results of her annual review are discussed.
Royer said random staff members were interviewed about Becker, all board members were surveyed and Becker was asked to answer questions posed by the board. Becker has discussed the results with board representatives. A report is being prepared and will be unveiled to the public next month.
Some critics contend that Becker doesn’t mingle with the public enough and doesn’t present a good “face” for the library.
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