Three positions open on Basalt library board
BASALT – People who have been critical of the way the Basalt Regional Library District has been operated over the past year will be able to do something about it this winter.
Three of the seven positions on the library district’s board of trustees are up for appointment in March. One incumbent, Taylor Liebmann, has announced that he will not seek reappointment. He represents Pitkin County. Current board member Christine Tinner, who represents Basalt, has reapplied. Liz Gremillion, who represents Eagle County, has expressed an interest in returning.
Applicants must live in the jurisdiction where they are applying. The terms are three years.
Applications must be submitted to the library by 5 p.m. Feb. 3. An online application is available at http://www.basaltrld.org under the “Join Our Board!” heading.
So far, four people have submitted applications, according to library officials. The names of the applicants won’t be released before the deadline.
The sitting board intends to interview applicants at its next regular meeting on Feb. 13 and forward recommendations regarding the appointments to the county commissioners and Basalt Town Council. The library hopes to have the positions filled by its March meeting.
“We’re looking for people who care about books and reading, who believe in the power of information and who want to be an advocate for public libraries,” the application says.
Controversy over finances and the board’s oversight of the former executive director might be additional motivating factors for some applicants. A group composed of library patrons and volunteers has been feuding with the board of trustees since last summer over budget allocations, as well as the salary and benefit package and spending history of former executive director Kristin Becker.
The group battled to get hours of operation extended and more funds allocated for adding to the library’s collections of materials. The library district is dipping into reserves to balance its budget this year.
Another area of contention was salary and housing allowance given to Becker. She made $105,000 in salary and a $30,000 annual housing allowance in 2011. Critics contended Becker had too sweet of a contract, especially because she didn’t live within the Basalt Library District. The board reduced Becker’s proposed benefits package for 2012 by $10,000 and made other cuts to health-insurance benefits.
Becker exercised a clause in her contract that allowed her to consider herself terminated if her salary and benefits package was adjusted to a greater degree than other comparable employees. Becker demanded a $26,232.40 severance package. Nothing has been paid. Negotiations with Becker will be settled after the new board is seated in March.
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