Farmington library paid $63K for media, social consulting

Farmington Community Library (FCL) paid two firms a total of $85,000 over the past year for work that involved organizational, human resources, and media consulting.

Farmington Voice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in February for invoices from several consulting firms, after officials amended the library’s 2021-2022 budget to include $600,000 in professional services. That’s up from $61,950 in 2019-2020 and $181,764 in 2020-2021.

Between June 2020 and February 2021, trustees authorized more than $230,000 in payments to four firms: Barnes & Thornburg, MCCI (communications consultants), Pepper Consulting, and MBM Technology Solutions.

Pepper Consulting 

Trustees originally authorized up to $8,000 for consultant Cynthia Pepper to conduct a community survey and meet with staff and focus groups for a “Service Module Assessment”. The data gathered was to inform the library’s strategic planning process.

The contract was expanded last summer and expected to cost $12,000. By the end of last year, the library had paid Pepper Consulting Group $22,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant in-person interviews did not happen, Pepper told trustees last September. The community survey drew 2,162 responses over a two-week period, from about 90,000 emailed.

After presenting survey results, Pepper proposed a staffing overhaul that reduced 74 job titles to 20 and suggested new job titles that better aligned with duties performed. She also suggested director Riti Grover form a leadership team with staff dedicated to innovation and outreach/marketing, program development, and administration.

According to invoices, Pepper Consulting billed the library for 27.5 days of work, at $800 per day, with a 50 percent “courtesy discount” and a $1,000 “holiday discount” on December’s invoice. Services included:

  • Survey planning, design, analysis, and presentations
  • Working with IT to track and deliver survey results
  • Survey data review and analysis of open-ended responses
  • Design an organizational structure with reporting relationships
  • Drafting 20 job specifications, recruitment strategy, and interview questions
  • Creation of draft salary structures and pay ranges
  • Media interview discussions

Marketing consultants

MCCI Integrated Marketing (formerly Mort Crim Communications) also provided help with media and communications, starting in August.

FCL paid the firm $63,225, with the last invoice sent January 31. Invoices are much less detailed, but most of the billing was attributed to social media management ($27,000) and media relations ($30,000).

Other budget adjustments

The library’s total 2021 budget now anticipates $6.4 million in spending against more than $6.5 million in revenues.

Amended budget documents show the furlough and staff reductions have saved the library more than $740,000 in wages and benefits for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Unemployment compensation ballooned from $199,620 spent last year to an estimated $379,130.

Budget adjustments included a $160,835 decline in fees, fines, donations, and other revenues; $180,000 of additional spending on building improvements; $105,000 in technology upgrades; and more than $30,000 in COVID-19 expenses.

Last year’s budget recorded a $1,294,301 surplus, with significant savings in employee and building costs after the libraries shut down in March. That’s been whittled down to $166,136 in the 2021 amended budget, leaving a fund balance of $4,178,813.

View the FOIA request documents.

Related: FARMINGTON LIBRARY SPENT $230K ON CONSULTANTS DURING FURLOUGH 

Related: BILLS FOR FARMINGTON LIBRARY TECH SERVICES TOTAL $84K

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