Queens Borough President Melinda Katz discussed the recent scandal plaguing the Queens Public Library, including reports that the library’s executive director, Thomas Galante, received improper benefits on top of his salary of $392,000.
“Whether or not the salary is exorbinant, by the way, compared to other not-for-profits is something that the board needs to figure out,” Katz said. “There is something called an executive compensation study and it is to be done by board of trustees for non-profits, so that needs to be done. We need to figure out, is it exorbitant, [or] is it not?”
Katz penned a letter to the library’s board of trustees that listed a number of proposed reforms for the library to consider, including establishing a fixed term of employment for the executive director—Galante reportedly has an “evergreen” clause in his contract that causes it to renew automatically each year for another five years.
“You can’t have a contract that just continues at a not-for-profit, especially a not-for-profit that gets 85 percent of its funding from the city of New York,” Katz said.
Katz also raised the question of whether it is appropriate for Galante to be collecting outside income. The Daily News reported that in addition to his job at the library Galante was paid an average of $143,000 annually between 2008 and 2010 by the Elmont Union Free School District in Long Island as a $150-per-hour business consultant. Katz did not say outright that Galante should not be collecting any outside income, but proposed in her letter that the board of trustees set a limit for how much money a library employee can receive, and that it be publicly reported the same way most city employees do.
“My big request to the libraries is that they treat it like a city agency,” she said. “Folks should know what the staff is making. Folks should know what type of perks anyone gets in the library because it is such a city-oriented facility.”
If the board of trustees fails to act on Katz’s suggestions, the borough president said that she has been working with Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry to look into what type of legislation would be necessary to codify these reforms.
“I think it’s important for folks to remember that the library is actually a creation of the state, not the city,” Katz said. “So even though it’s really city-funded, it’s the state that created it, so the bylaws can only be directed and re-done really by state legislation.”