2014-02-07 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Library CEO: Answer For Spending
By Miriam Rosenberg

Every year, for the last few years, Rockaway residents – in fact residents throughout the borough – have rallied to save jobs and branches of the Queens Library from budget cuts, this week’s news is troubling.

The Daily News recently reported that last year the Queens Library’s CEO Thomas Galante earned $391,594 plus perks. According to reports he makes more than the mayor, schools chancellor or the chair of the MTA.

Over the years of his contract he has received annual cost-of living increases. Library employees have not received a raise since 2008.

Last year Galante also spent $140,000 to renovate his second floor offices at the Central library in Jamaica. These renovations included an outdoor deck built for use as a conference area and two executive conference rooms.

Galante has always seemed to do what is right for Rockaway. But to pay more than $110,000 for two executive conference rooms and say there is not enough space so you spend another $27,000 for an outdoor deck is beyond me. His personal bath and shower was also painted to the tune of approximately $3,000.

Last year Galante stood on the steps of City Hall with elected officials, library staff and citizens rallying against budget cuts. As they say in sports – let’s go to the video tape, literally.

A YouTube video posted by the Queens Library last June shows Galante saying, “In Queens we are now down 300 employees already…. It’s totally unacceptable. Our council members are standing strong to turn this back around the other way so we can get our library services restored, buy the information we need and meet the needs of the people of this city.”

During the 2012 budget crisis Galante testified in front of the City Council.

“When compared to the funding levels of 2008,” he said, “Queens Library is down 18 percent of our staff with 14 percent fewer hours of service.”

He added “We already slashed the materials budget 60 percent in order to preserve staff and hours while also sustaining mid-year cuts this year and last.”

Galante has said his salary is “average” compensation for a non-profit – which the Queens Library is.

Council Majority Leader and chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, Jimmy Van Bramer has promised a hearing.

“I love the Queens Library, and I am proud to be its biggest supporter,” Van Brmmer said on his Facebook page “But stories of private outdoor patios and questionable spending deserve great scrutiny and they will get it…. I look forward to hearing from the Library at our upcoming hearing and trust my concerns and those of the public-at-large will be addressed.”

So do we.

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