TWO groups made financial requests to city council Nov. 5, marking the start of the city’s preparations leading to establishing its 2014 budget.
The heads of the Terrace Public Library and the Terrace and District Museum Society, which operates Heritage Park on the bench, focused on the progress of programs and upgrades before requesting budget increases of 2 per cent and just under 1 per cent for salary increases and operation costs, respectively.
Head librarian Margo Schiller spoke about the recently-installed elevator which has improved access to the Terrace Art Gallery located in the library’s downstairs space and about the library’s electronic checkout system.
She added that 80 per cent of the money needed to convert the reference room into a reading room is in place and that construction will begin before the year is out.
Some of the money was raised locally with the rest coming in the form of grants and is not coming from the city or the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District, Schiller added.
The library is asking for a 2 per cent increase to cover rising costs in the coming year, mainly for salary increases that comprise 75 per cent of the total budget, as well as money for computer and IT service upgrades.
A total of $85,000 is spent on acquisitions including books, ebooks, magazines, CDs, and subscription databases—compared to $400,000 on salaries.
The total amount requested from both city and the Kitimat-Stikine regional district is $599,900 for 2014 compared to $581,850 last year.
The regional district contribution is raised through rural area taxes and enables rural residents to enjoy library services on the same level as people who live in the city.
Schiller was accompanied by library board director David Try who said that the pay increases reflects what is given to City of Terrace employees through their union agreement.
Beyond the salary increase, there is also a rise in service expenses which includes $3,500 budgeted for maintenance of the self checkout machine and computer in the coming year.
After an introduction by Kelsey Wiebe from the museum society, she was congratulated by mayor David Pernarowski on the events which took place at Heritage Park this year and on an increase in visitors in several categories.
For the coming year the museum is also looking for a moderate hike to pay for rising cost in services, at $73,000 compared to $72,100 last year.
Grant Piffer from the museum society board also spoke, noting that the society is continuing to search for a downtown museum location which he hopes will be financed by a provincial non-profit association. He asked for a letter of endorsement from council.
City finance director Ron Bowles told council that the requests are reasonable.
“They are not asking for new services. Their costs are just going up,” said Bowles. The Terrace Economic Development Authority (TEDA) was also slated to make a presentation but its appearance was postponed.
But council members did raise questions with councillor Brian Downie asking about a $25,000 deficit indicated in the authority’s overall financial plan.
“The net loss shows a $25,000 deficit so obviously they must have a previously accrued surplus,” said Downie.
“I wonder where it would show the revenue from Minerals North. We keep hearing how successful it was and I don’t see that reflected here,” councillor Marylin Davies pointed out in referring to development authority’s hosting of minerals conference here in April.
Downie, who is council’s alternate liaison with the development authority, said it acted as a sub group of a larger organization called the Minerals North Society so that the Terrace conference wouldn’t typically would be detailed in the authority’s own budget.
“We want TEDA to come to council to explain the budget and answer that question,” Downie added.
TEDA was scheduled to present at Monday’s council meeting.