The Queens Library has hired an outside consultant to probe its embattled CEO’s whopping $392,000 salary and perks, the nonprofit’s top executives said Monday.
“We need to absorb the information we get from the study, as a board,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gabriel Taussig. “We’re committed to doing these things expeditiously and thoughtfully.”
The board is paying Hay Group $25,000 for a one-time review of Queens Library President and CEO Tom Galante’s entire compensation package and contract terms, officials said. The library boss is embroiled in news reports that claim he spent nearly $140,000 on a private smoking deck and office renovations.
The controversy also includes Galante’s $392,000 salary, $2 million severance package and $140,000 annual income from his side job consulting for the Elmont Union Free School District on Long Island.
Hay Group, a global management consulting firm hired last week, will size up Galante’s job against other comparable organization heads, which could lead to new contract negotiations, said Jacqueline Arrington, chair of the board’s administrative committee.
The firm has less than 90 days to report back with its findings and another 30 days after that to hammer out a new contract, library spokesperson Joanne King said.
“Whatever the end result is will be fair, reasonable, equitable and competitive,” said Galante, who declined to comment on whether he would take a pay cut.
The chief executive — when he wasn’t touting the library’s achievements — defended claims against him.
He reiterated his right as a “workaholic” to engage in outside employment, saying he sometimes puts in 125 total hours a week from both gigs. And he only consults as an “independent contractor, not an employee” from either Elmont or his home, he said.
Galante added his $2 million severance package is not considered a “golden parachute” and is only given to him if he is fired without wrongdoing.
The high exit payout is because of an “evergreen” clause in his five-year contract, amended in 2012, that allows it to be renewed automatically every year, Galante said.
The board plans to ax the clause in future contracts, according to Taussig, who would not confirm if that included Galante’s.
The consultation study is the first in a series of new measures the board plans to take to restore public trust and ease discontent amongst Queens lawmakers, board members said during a Feb. 25 sit-down meeting with several Queens reporters.
Since reports surfaced, State Senator Tony Avella has asked Galante to resign. Other state legislators and Borough President Melinda Katz say they are committed to getting a bill passed that would require financial disclosure from top library executives.
An audit committee within the Board of Trustees is underway, Arrington said. The board will decide if there should be more oversight into the hiring of top level executives, she added.
“I don’t want people to lose sight of what Queens Public Library has done for this borough,” Arrington said.