Terrace’s public Library won’t be axing service hours this year now that it’s getting the money it needs.
At a budget meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 29, Terrace city council and the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine agreed to increase yearly money given to the library by $13,640.
Had it not, the library would have had to decrease service hours in order to keep up with union wage increases for its staff. And leading into city budget talks, the library board decided a service decrease meant shutting its doors for two weeks this year.
The decision to give them more didn’t come without thoughtful debate first on the part of city council.
“Ultimately, if the funding isn’t there, it’s going to be program cuts,” said councillor James Cordeiro at the meeting.
“We do get our value out of it because it’s so much more than just a library,” said Lynne Christiansen at the meeting. “I am in favour of the increase.”
While everyone at the meeting agreed it is valuable, the library represents the largest yearly cost to the city of Terrace for a service – this year at $557,490, a portion of which is paid by the RDKS.
And while this year the two municipalities have agreed to pay more, the province hasn’t. The provincial government is holding steady at $93,931, said chief Librarian Margo Schiller.
There was concern raised by some at the meeting that ongoing increases might not be viable for the city.
“We deal with the library as the largest single grant we have,” said councillor Brian Downie. “At some point in time, it means we are not being able to support other organizations with very valuable services.”
To deal with that possibility, council agreed that a “clear message” should be sent to the library that it will need to ramp up fundraising or reorganize spending to account for a potential city spending freeze in the future.
“There are ways that they could help and we could help,” said mayor Dave Pernarowski. “I’d like to see some co-operation on their behalf, even if it means opening half an hour later.”
The library’s other sources of income include self-generated things like late fees and fundraising which last year came in at $24,821, federal grants at $3,408, and other grants at $12,452.
The library is bound by the Library Act to provide these services for free: admission into the library, usage of library materials, the premises, lendable materials and reference information.
It may, under that act, charge for other services.