Friday, 10 November 2017 06:22

Chinook Regional Library wants to increase 2018 budget

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Chinook Regional Library Director Dr. Jean McKendry (at left) speaks at a meeting of municipal delegates in Swift Current, Nov. 4. Standing next to her is Sharon Peters, the executive committee vice-chair. Chinook Regional Library Director Dr. Jean McKendry (at left) speaks at a meeting of municipal delegates in Swift Current, Nov. 4. Standing next to her is Sharon Peters, the executive committee vice-chair.

The Chinook Regional Library is proposing a three per cent increase to its budget for 2018. The budget proposal was presented at a meeting of municipal delegates in Swift Current, Nov. 4.

 

The delegates represented the local authorities in the Chinook Regional Library's service area. Chinook Regional Library Director Dr. Jean McKendry presented details about the budget and the municipal grant to be paid by local authorities at the meeting. There will be an increase in the base rate for municipalities while the formula for the 2018 municipal grant also used 2016 population census figures.
“It costs more money to provide library services,” she said after the meeting. “ The base rate for towns and villages went up three per cent and the base rate for Swift Current went up three per cent and then multiply that by the population.”
Municipalities that experienced a decrease in population between the 2011 and 2016 census, for example Maple Creek, will actually see a decrease in the amount of their municipal grant, despite the increase in the base rate.
In other cases, for example the City of Swift Current, there will be an increase in the municipal grant payment to Chinook Regional Library due to a combination of an increase in the base rate as well as a growing population.
The total amount of the 2018 municipal grant is $999,253.13. The City of Swift Current will be paying the largest portion of this amount, namely $444,208.47. Towns and villages will pay a total of $298,765.76 while rural municipalities will pay a total of $256,278.90.
Municipal delegates voted on a motion to approve the Chinook Regional Library's 2018 budget as presented at the meeting. There were 40 votes in favour of the motion, and three votes against it. The City of Swift Current delegates voted against the motion as well as the delegate from the R.M. of Morse.
Dr. McKendry was pleased with the overwhelming support from rural municipalities, but there will have to be discussions with the City of Swift Current.
“What happens next is we have to have a meeting with the City of Swift Current,” she said. “They have to put something in writing. I have nothing in writing to say why they don’t want to approve this budget. ... We now have to talk about what’s going to happen next and because I have nothing in writing I can’t speak about it until I have something in writing.”
City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer Tim Marcus said the figure in the Chinook Regional Library's budget was different from the amount that the City included in its 2018 budget allocation.
“Therefore I believe that's why they voted no, because the two amounts weren't the same and it was a conflict to vote in favour of a budget containing a different amount than what the City was provided,” he mentioned during a media interview, Nov. 6. “The City I believe has increased the amount from 2017 to 2018 by three per cent on the total dollars, and the amount that was in the budget was some other number. ... Without it being the same, they felt that they couldn't vote in favour of it. That's why they voted no.”
He indicated that the Chinook Regional Library still have time to discuss the matter with the City.
“They can come back and ask council to consider changing from what's been proposed in the budget, because the City hasn't passed it's budget for next year yet, but it would be up to council,” he said.
He added that the combination of the increase in the base rate and the City's population growth will result in an increase of about eight per cent in the municipal grant that the City is requested to pay.
“In time that dollars are hard to come by, especially from the City's revenue standpoint, council thought that based on everything else, that a three per cent increase in total dollars from the 2017 year to the 2018 year was sufficient,” he said.
The Chinook Regional Library plans to use the proposed 2018 budget increase to purchase equipment and to fund a salary increase for staff.
“We have some old equipment that we need to replace and we are hoping to give the staff across the board a salary increase,” Dr. McKendry said. “They haven’t had a salary increase to keep up with the cost of living for many years and so we’re hoping for that, and that will be approved by the executive board, not me. And we want to do more programs and services in all our libraries. We’re still hopeful, but we don’t know how much money we’re going to get from the provincial government next year.”
Due to uncertainty over the budget allocation that will be received from the provincial government, the Chinook Regional Library only prepared a budget for the 2018 financial year instead of the usual three-year budget.
“I wasn’t comfortable asking for a commitment for three years,” she said. “If I find out that I can’t provide library services without provincial funding, I would have to go back and revise a three-year budget. So we just thought I’d rather work year by year. We used to just do year by year budgets.”
She is concerned about the potential impact of provincial budget decisions on library services, but she is confident the libraries will weather the downturn in the economy.
“Librarians are enablers,” she said. “We help people to get ahead in life. We don’t solve anybody’s problems for them. We help people to help themselves and that’s one of the best things about libraries. They’re for everybody. They’re inclusive and in our community we have so many people who use our libraries and we really like to provide really good quality service.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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