By Shaw Israel Izikson, Contributor
At their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, the Selectboard voted to adjust the salaries of three employees at the Charlotte Library. But after the discussion and motion there seemed to be more questions than answers.
Originally, at the Oct. 11 regular meeting, the Selectboard went into an executive session for an agenda item listed as “Request to revise compensation for certain Library employees based on tenure with the town.”
The executive session was not listed on the Oct. 11 meeting agenda, and the board went into an executive session with Charlotte Library Board Trustees Jonathan Silverman and Nan Mason.
The executive session lasted for only 20 minutes. Chairman James Faulkner said that nothing was accomplished in the executive session due to technical difficulties.
At the Oct. 18 meeting, an agenda item was listed as “Request to revise compensation for certain Library employees based on tenure with Town.”
At the beginning of the discussion, Selectboard member Louise McCarren said the reason for the agenda item and discussion was because when salaries were set at the library, there were three employees the library board felt were not “properly placed.”
McCarren said town HR consultant Dan Lyons, of Gallagher, Flynn & Company LLP of South Burlington, sent a letter to the board agreeing with the changes they proposed.
However, McCarren said at the meeting that, while the letter from Lyons was in the Selectboard’s meeting packet, it was not online on the town’s website for public viewing for the Oct. 11 or Oct. 18 meetings.
Lyons was not present at the Oct. 18 meeting.
“I don’t want to put words in Dan’s mouth, but when I spoke to him today, he wanted to come in person, and he said yes, a mistake has been made,” McCarren said. “And he supports these changes.”
“We hired Dan Lyons to be the HR person,” Board Chairman James Faulkner said. “We really didn’t want to get into this situation, so that’s why we hired an HR person. He did the analysis and came back with a couple of mistakes, from what I understand. It was brought back up again, and he’s reviewed it again, I think, several times.”
McCarren made the following motion: “I move that we make the changes to these three positions as presented in the information you have.”
Selectboard Member Matt Krasnow seconded the motion.
McCarren’s motion did not specify the employees whose salaries were going to be changed or the proposed changes to their salaries.
According to McCarren, the issue with the employees’ salaries stemmed from their job experiences wrongly identified as being in the “first quartile” (the least experienced category).
“Given their experience, they deserved to be somewhere in the third and fourth quartile,” she said.
From the Zoom audience, Town Clerk/Treasurer Mary Mead voiced concerns about the discussion and motion.
“This opens up the door for a lot of other people to come back to Gallagher and Flynn to have a private conversation and say, ‘Oh, by the way, you made an error with my experience,’” Mead said. “I was just hoping that maybe this time around with readjusting salaries it can be a done deal. You can make your motion, and all is fine. Now it seems like you are opening the door again for people to go back and say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake. That’s not right. Blah blah blah.’ Haven’t you had enough of that already?”
“The issue was more [that] Dan Lyons had admitted to a mistake and he wanted to correct it,” Faulkner said. “You are right in the sense that the library board had to put it out to him. If there is a flaw in the system, if a library board is going to represent a certain number of employees, the other employees are going to need some kind of representative to go to.”
Faulkner said he thought Lyons “stepped up to the plate” by admitting his mistake and offering to correct it.
“Mistakes happen,” Faulkner said.