published Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

New Chattanooga library director's salary is city's sixth-highest


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Corinne Hill, interim executive director of the Dallas Public Library, speaks during a media event at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas in 2011. Hill has accepted a position as executive director of the Public Library in Chattanooga, library officials confirmed.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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COMPARABLE CITIES

A list of comparable cities shows Chattanooga's new library director falls within the range of library directors.

  • Nashville Public Library: $137,000
  • Knox County Public Library: $125,000
  • Birmingham, Ala., Public Library: $109,000
  • Greeneville, S.C., Public Library: $116,000

Source: Nashville Public Library, Knox County Public Library, Public Library Association

The city's new library director will receive 44 percent more pay than the old director and make more than the city's police chief and fire chief, records show.

But the pay for new library Executive Director Corinne Hill still is comparable to other cities across the region, according to Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Hill was brought in to usher the library into the 21st Century, Littlefield said, so the city and the library had to pay market price for the former interim director of the Dallas Public Library.

"She could have been hired by Dallas," he said. "I consider it a real coup."

Hill will make $121,000 a year, compared to David Clapp, who earned $84,423 annually.

Jim Kennedy, chairman of The Public Library board, said her salary is well worth it.

"It's the best money we ever spent," said Kennedy. "I bet she can save her salary in a matter of months."

Hill was named executive director three weeks ago. She takes over from Clapp, who retired Dec. 31. Hill's first day on the job is March 1.

She said Monday she expected to make from $140,000 to $150,000 if she had accepted an offer to become the permanent executive director at Dallas. But there were other factors that contributed to her decision to come to Chattanooga, she said.

"I want to go where the work is," she said.

Hill said she saw some places in operations and specifically technology where the library could see savings. She also said she sees opportunities in Chattanooga with finding more federal grant money, and also philanthropy.

"When you look around Chattanooga there's tons of opportunities," she said.

Her pay will place her as the sixth-highest paid city employee, just below City Judges Russell Bean and Sherry Paty, Littlefield, City Finance Officer Daisy Madison and Chief of Staff Dan Johnson.

She will make more than Fire Chief Randy Parker, who makes $114,868 annually, and Police Chief Bobby Dodd, who makes $110,000 annually, records show.

But Kennedy said she could have made more money staying in the Dallas Library System.

"She's actually taking a pretty big haircut from where she was," he said.

A review of other cities in the region shows her pay is comparable. The Nashville Public Library director makes $137,000 a year, while the Knox County Public Library director makes $125,000 a year.

Hill said the first few months on the job in Chattanooga will be preparing a budget for next fiscal year, looking at how money is spent, where it is spent and if people use the products the money is being spent on.

June Garcia, the consultant hired by the city to help find a library director, said Chattanooga got Hill at a bargain with the skill sets she brings to the city.

"Considering the talent you're getting, I don't think [the salary] is out of line," she said.

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