Kokomo-Howard County Public Library employees will be getting another raise this year, as part of a $5.18 million budget passed last week by the library board.
Employees will get a .5 percent raise, and employees who meet or exceed performance standards will get an additional 1.25 percent.
It will be the second straight year for that raise package, following the 2010 budget, which contained no raises. Library director Charles Joray and assistant director Peg Harmon will forego raises.
“There was enough money in the budget for raises, and we certainly felt the employees deserved it,” Joray said.
The resumption of regular raises for library employees after one year without raises comes as the library board gets ready to spend most of its remaining reserve balance on a new Outreach Building.
Some of the pressure on the board to forego cuts in the 2010 budget came as the board struggled with a major downtown renovation project and the simultaneous meltdown of the national and local economies.
Prior to that 2009 decision, library salaries had climbed rapidly for years.
Between 2003 and 2008, the total amount spent on employee pay and benefits increased 28 percent.
During the same period, the amount saved each year for future capital expenses dwindled, from $1.2 million in 2003 to less than $150,000 in 2009.
The board voted to reserve $281,000 next year, a slight drop from the $330,000 being set aside this year, Joray said.
The library’s 2009 budget was almost exactly the same as the library’s 2003 budget, but in 2009, salaries and benefits made up 63 percent of the budget. In 2003, that figure was 48 percent.
Joray’s salary, which hasn’t been increased for three years, was $70,242 in 2003; by 2009 it had risen to $98,262, making him the biggest recipient of the salary increases.
Joray said the board will put less in reserve next year mainly because the library’s long-term capital projects plan is mostly complete.
The only big project remaining is the expansion and renovation of the Russiaville branch. The board is also considering purchasing another bookmobile, Joray added.
The budget passed last Monday asks for a $146,225 increase over the current budget and about $38,000 of the increase is related to the raises, Joray said.
The board also budgeted for new software system to replace the library search system patrons currently use.
“This budget is really emphasizing technology,” he said. “At one time, the library was sort of a leader in technology, but I think we’ve been so focused on building projects for a long time, that we need to get caught up on technology.”
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at scott.smith@ kokomotribune.com