February 6, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—City Council members told Thomas Galante, the Queens Library CEO, that his salary of nearly $400,000 is too excessive. Some City Council members said they might introduce legislation meant to expand the Library’s board to include a City Council representative as a means to rein in the high salary and perks. Watch Video of Galante before the City Council
The Daily News reported in January that Mr. Galante authorized the spending of $140,000 to renovate his offices, including a 250-square-foot rooftop desk next to his office for use as a private smoking area, while laying off union custodians because he outsourced the work.
City Council members asked Galante how he justifies a salary of nearly $400,000–a salary higher than even the mayor’s.
Galante responded that it requires superb leadership skills to lead a system like the Queens Library.
“You need to make sure for any business or any educational institution that you got good leadership and strong management because you get what you pay for,” said Galante.
He also told the council that it was important to have continuity in leadership and management; he informed the board back in 2005 that he really wanted to stay with the organization and “retire here, so it’d be nice to have a competitive salary….because I got kids to put through college.”
That incurred the wrath of several council members such as Andy King and Helen Rosenthal who told him that there are Queens Library staffs that earn a lot less than $400K who also need to pay for their student’s education.
Councilmember Rosenthal also wasn’t happy with Galante’s indirect answers when she wanted to learn how many custodial jobs the library has outsourced.
“For a guy who makes over $400,000 a year, I think you should know these numbers,” said Rosenthal.
Councilmember Rory Lancman, who asked Galante about warranting such a high salary when the library is always grasping for dollars, said in an interview that the council wants to make sure the monies it budgets to libraries is well spent.
“For me, it really begs the question about whether or not the library should be viewed as a private or public institution. It looks like about 95 percent of the library’s funding comes from taxpayers. For a public institution to pay its CEO $400,000 is a little troubling,” Lancman said.
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