Contracts Spare Salaries from Budget Cuts, Says Director of Fitchburg Public Library (MA)
Library officials worry about losing certification because of budget cuts
By Alexandra Perloe, Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg, MA); June 15, 2007
Librarians urge saving certification
By Alexandra Perloe, Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg, MA); June 25, 2007
Fitchburg officials debate budget cuts that could cause the library to lose state certification, but union contracts will preserve library employees’ salaries.
Budget cuts currently on the table endanger Fitchburg Public Library’s certification. Library Director Ann Wirtanen notes that the library’s $1,083,968 budget is only $755 higher than the state’s “municipal appropriation requirement,” or MAR; if the budget falls beneath the MAR, the library may lose certification and, with it, state funding.
But city councilors, who need to cut the $95.5 million city budget by another $760,000 to balance it, say it’s unfair to spare the library from additional cuts.
The salaries of most library staffers are protected by union contract, notes Wirtanen.
Wirtanen herself is slated to receive a $7,000 raise, from $68,484 to $75,482, in Mayor Dan H. Mylott’s proposed budget. The raise stems from Wirtanen’s contracts with the city and with her specialty skills union.
Councilors want to keep Wirtanen at her current salary of $68,484. “The second we can’t touch a department, it’s unfair,” Council Vice President Joel Kaddy said during the hearing.
“If there’s no money, there’s no money, regardless of what the state tells us,” Councilor at-large Annie DeMartino said. “The library will have to take a hit just like everyone else.”
But Wirtanen’s raise is insured by her contract with the city of Fitchburg, which she signed when she was hired last spring. That contract gives Wirtanen a “step” increase on July 1, 2007, she and Mylott said. Department heads normally receive step increases every two years.
In addition to the raise guaranteed by Wirtanen’s contract, Wirtanen will receive an increase negotiated between the Fitchburg mayor and the specialty skills union. This union represents mid-level managers, and the matrix that determines these managers’ salaries also dictates department head salaries.
Wirtanen said she doesn’t know what steps she might take if councilors cut her salary below what her contract promises.
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