Conroe, February 25 – With the massive variety of sources of information readily available to Americans young and old, it’s not surprising that the Pew Research Center has found a nine percent (9%) decline in library usage across the United States every three year. In Montgomery County, library usage is no different from the national pattern. Nevertheless, the County’s Library budget has grown by more than nine percent in just five years, from $8,771,633 in Fiscal Year 2014 to $9,574,215.
The Library has become a bureaucrat’s candy land.
Now, Library Director Jerilynne Williams seeks to punish the taxpayers for the Commissioners Court’s decision on February 12, 2019, to eliminate four positions which had remained unfilled for long periods of time, also known as “ghost employees.” While taxpayers had to pay taxes to support the spending on those positions, Williams and the Library Department didn’t fill the positions. Williams clearly was furious that the Commissioners Court dared to oversee the folly in her mismanagement of County tax dollars.
On September 5, 2018, after hearing Williams’ budget request, the Commissioners Court passed a Budget, which included the Library Department, for the entire Fiscal Year 2019, which began on October 1, 2018.
On January 29, 2019, and again on February 12, 2019, the Commissioners Court considered the “ghost employees” in Williams’ Library Department:
- A Library Coordinator-Programs, which Williams and the Library Department had left vacant for 308 days with total compensation of $68,716.52. Obviously, hiring someone in such a lucrative position could not pose much of a challenge since the median income for a family of four in Montgomery County is only $71,123, according to the United States Census Bureau.
- A Librarian II position, which Williams had allowed to remain vacant for 186 days with total compensation of $64,756.80.
- A Branch Manager position, which Williams had allowed to remain vacant for 333 days with total compensation above the median income for Montgomery County. The Branch Manager “ghost” received compensation of $78,415.69.
- A Catalog Technician, vacant for 116 days with total compensation of $37,193.50.
On February 12, 2019, the Commissioners Court voted 4 to 1 (Meador dissenting) to end Williams’ folly and eliminated the positions.
In a memo from Williams to Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, Williams now seeks to reopen the eliminated positions at total salaries that are $14,864.07 higher than Williams and the Library Department had received in its Budget request for Fiscal Year 2019. Williams told Keough in the secret memorandum, “A funding source would be needed for the remaining $14,864.07.”
Williams clearly is out of touch with reality. First, Keough and the Commissioners Court have made clear they wanted to close the “ghost employee” positions. Second, Williams’ actions – and no one else’s – were clearly the justification for closing the positions. The Library Department operated just fine without the four “ghost employees.”
The clear justification for Williams request for a mid-year budget increase is her anger that the Commissioners Court has called her to task for her poor management of her underutilized Department.
Keough ran for office on a platform of reducing County government spending. Williams’ awkward request for an increase is precisely the place where he should drawn the line in the sand and say “no” to reinstatement of positions which have now been vacant for almost a year with respect to two of the four of them and almost half a year for the other two.