Library director, fiscal officer awarded raises

By Debbie Rogers, [email protected]

The Wood County District Public Library Board of Trustees met on Monday and awarded raises. Director Michael Penrod (in the back) will get a 4.5% raise, along with a $1,000 bonus.

Library leaders have completed a challenging year and are being rewarded with raises and bonuses.

The Wood County District Library Board, which met Monday, also presented future challenges to Director Michael Penrod. He and Linda Joseph, the part-time fiscal officer, were given 4.5% raises and a $1,000 lump-sum bonus.

“As always you’ve done a fabulous job this year,” said board member Ellen Dalton.

Board Vice President Becky Bhaer praised Penrod for juggling the construction impact of the adjacent new city building.

“You have made it look easy,” Bhaer said.

She also noted the employee turnover and asked Penrod to put in a plan to address that.

“If things have settled down, let’s just make absolutely sure we’re doing everything we can to retain employees,” Bhaer said.

Board member Mike Sibbersen asked Penrod to bring the strategic plan to fruition in the coming months.

“I give you great marks with how you communicate with the board,” Sibbersen said.

Board President Brian Paskvan said that he enjoyed serving with Penrod.

‘You are just a great joy to work with. We have full faith and confidence in your leadership,” Paskvan said. “We are very excited about where we are going in the next year. There’s lots of goals that we gave you and we know that they’re big tasks.

“You’ve assembled a fantastic staff and we’re just excited to see what the new year brings.”

For the staff raises, Penrod was given a $59,328 salary pool, to be distributed at his discretion, based on performance.

An additional lump sum of $1,000 for the 26 benefited positions will be awarded. Part-time workers will receive a $500 bonus.

Penrod said this was carefully looked at by him and the board. While there is a need to raise salaries to try to retain employees, the increases need to be sustainable, he said.

The bonuses will cost $31,500 total.

Penrod’s annual salary was increased from $97,332 to $101,112. He has 31 years library experience and has been the WCDPL director for 11 years.

Joseph will be paid $34.24 per hour, up from $32.77 per hour.

“We’re so lucky to have someone who is so experienced and so capable,” Bhaer said.

The board also approved increasing benefits for employees. A vision plan and life insurance will now be offered, along with paying for some health insurance for spouses and family.

“We need to stay competitive in this arena,” Paskvan said. “And with us not having those types of benefits, it’s difficult for us to compete.”

“Of the 40 positions that we have, 27.5% are new to us in the past 12 months,” he said.

Paskvan also said that 40% of employees, or 16, are new within the past 24 months.

“Only 13 staff members have worked for WCDPL for at least five years,” he said. “That made us take pause, to say are we able to recruit in this world, knowing what the environment out there for recruiting is?”

Health insurance is up 20% for 2023. Penrod noted that there was a 13% decrease in 2021. He also pointed out that the library insurance is a “small, transitional plan group.” If the plan is changed at all, such as to a higher deductible, it kicks the library out into the market.

Some of the rates in that market are 200% higher.

“Paramount is really the only option,” Penrod said of insurance.

Monday’s action was taken after a 40-minute executive session.

Board members Ken Frisch and Nathan Eikost were absent. Board member Greg Esposito left the meeting after the vote on administrators’ raises.

(A percentage sign has been added to this story in this graph: “Of the 40 positions that we have, 27.5% are new to us in the past 12 months,” he said.)