Council objects to library cuts

Budgeting: Coun. Alan Harrison argues in favour of a baseline funding model for branches

  • Nov. 26, 2014 10:00 a.m.

If you go to the spread sheet there

Some members of Salmon Arm council have vowed to fight cutbacks proposed for the local library and other small libraries in the region.

Council has been told that, come April 2015, hours of staff time at the library will be reduced, and Sunday openings will be eliminated.

Coun. Alan Harrison voiced his objections to the way the cuts across the region have been determined.

In 2013, the Okanagan Regional Library hired an accounting firm to review spending levels at all branches and verify that expenditures at each branch match local and provincial funding allocations for them.

Where spending is higher than revenue, service levels are being reduced.

Harrison disagrees with the premise.

“If you go to the spread sheet there,” he said at the Nov. 10 meeting of council, “basically every small community loses, and every large community wins.”

He said the formula doesn’t make sense if densities are taken into account.

He points out that a bigger branch has more taxpayer funding, so revenue is larger than expenses. In smaller branches, there’s less taxpayer funding, so expenses are higher than revenue.

Harrison notes library operating costs are similar regardless of the number of taxpayers to fund them.

“My argument is there should be a base level of funding.”

He noted the school district budget works on base-level funding, so that smaller communities can have a school.

“We need to fight for our situation… If it continues to go this way, small libraries will not be able to operate.”

Mayor Nancy Cooper represented Salmon Arm on the 24-member library board when the issue came up about three years ago and she voted for the plan. She said a lengthy analysis was done because communities were complaining.

“I understand what you’re saying; there should be a baseline.”

She asked if council would like members of the library board to come and explain the plan to them.

Coun. Chad Eliason agreed with Harrison.

“This looks like it will be a bigger issue. We’re the largest in the CSRD, so if we don’t stand up for the smaller branches, nobody will… I agree with Coun. Harrison and thank him. I hope we can do more to save the jobs and save the funding.”

 

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