I-Team: Library system salaries — they make how much?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) - The FOX 8 I-Team has found some top managers for the Cleveland Public Library making more money than the Cuyahoga County Executive, the mayor, and the police chief.

Since this involves your tax dollars, we took a closer look.

We found Library Executive Director Felton Thomas, Jr. earns $220,000 a year. And his contract shows 5% pay raises already built in for the next few years.

We also found 11 other top managers earn between $119,000 and $143,000.

But we also uncovered whopping raises of more than $10,000 last year for 5 executives just below the director. One raise totaled $45,000.

The I-Team went to the executive offices to ask how the library system can justify having that many people make that much money.

We started looking into this since union workers have threatened to strike. And executive pay has been one issue in contract talks.

Management responded to our inquiries by saying the best people are needed to keep the library system modern and safe. And, to carry out plans to review and overhaul all 27 branches.

Tana Peckham, chief of marketing and communications, said, “So, making sure that we have the right talent and leadership in place, and we retain that leadership so that we can embark on ambitious plans.”

She added, one management job was not filled. So, everyone is doing more.

Peckham said, “Those (pay) increases were due to promotions or additional duties that were assigned after the resignation of the Deputy Director.”

You also might be wondering about something else we investigated. Are the salaries for top management here at the Cleveland Public Library anything like the salaries for executives at other city library systems?

We found the head of the library systems in Pittsburgh and Columbus actually make more than the top man here.

Still the Cleveland Public Library executive director makes more than the Cuyahoga County Executive ($175,000) and Cleveland’s mayor ($146, 580).

Three managers make more than the Cleveland police chief ($130,000).

We showed those figures to some taxpayers and library customers. And they reacted with, “Very high. VERY, very high.” And, “I don’t know what they do or don’t do to earn their money, so I can’t jump to conclusions, but it seems high for what I think they do.”

Voters last approved a levy or tax for the library system in 2017.

The library says, despite the raises and salaries we found, the system has kept two-thirds of its budget for union worker pay and benefits.

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