SPB coun­cil not ready to sign 15-year li­brary con­tract

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - ZOE KESSLER Editor

In spite of its ac­cep­tance in the seven other Bruce County mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula coun­cil is re­luc­tant to sign a 15-year con­tract with Bruce County ‘as is.’

Coun­cil learned at its Oct. 3 meet­ing in Wiarton that staff had re­ceived a con­tract from the county re­gard­ing leas­ing the town’s two build­ings which house Bruce County li­brary branches in Sauble Beach and Wiarton.

Staff was asked to present the con­tract to the town for sign­ing.

“I think we owe it to our com­mu­nity to sit down and make sure a con­tract is agreed upon that pro­tects the com­mu­nity and ben­e­fits the com­mu­nity at the same time,” Jan­ice Jack­son, Mayor for the town said in an in­ter­view.

Pre­vi­ously, the li­braries have been run by ver­bal agree­ment only. A num­ber of sug­ges­tions were made by the town’s clerk for coun­cil to con­sider be­fore en­ter­ing into the long-term agree­ment.

Clar­i­fy­ing the square footage for the Wiarton branch li­brary use was one sug­ges­tion Angie Cathrae, man­ager of leg­isla­tive ser­vices and clerk for the town, had in re­gard to the con­tract.

The county’s pro­posed rate of $7.32 per sq/ft would mean a rate of $21,960 for use of the Wiarton li­brary space in 2018 – the same amount as 2017 – but this would not in­clude any square footage for the lobby, wash­rooms and board­room, Cathrae said in her re­port to coun­cil.

To date, jan­i­to­rial ser­vices, snow re­moval, ex­te­rior and in­te­rior main­te­nance, grass cut­ting, gas and hy­dro costs at the two li­brary branches have all been pro­vided by the town.

“If you pay for the util­i­ties then that util­ity has to be re­cov­ered through the rent. And that’s not so here. Sim­ple as that,” Coun­cil­lor Ana Vukovic said.

“I sup­port the li­brary – but at least pay your way.”

His­tor­i­cally, the li­brary has not paid the town’s hourly rental fee of $22.44 for leas­ing the board­room at the Ross Whicher Cen­tre, where the li­brary is housed. This year to date, the li­brary has used the board­room for 295 (sched­uled) hours, Cathrae said.

“Def­i­nitely the com­mu­nity room here at the Ross Whicher Cen­tre should be rented by the li­brary when they want it. That’s out­side the li­brary,” Deputy Mayor Jay Kirk­land said in coun­cil’s dis­cus­sion.

Kirk­land, Vukovic and Mayor Jack­son, who were the only coun­cil mem­bers at the meet­ing, agreed coun­cil needs to know the ac­tual op­er­a­tional costs of the fa­cil­ity be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion and staff was asked to re­port on th­ese costs for both branches.

Kirk­land said coun­cil needs to know the costs so they can take that into con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing this year’s bud­get talks.

The town tries to get all its ser­vices at the “best cost,” Kirk­land said, adding “I still be­lieve we need the ser­vices of the li­braries within South Bruce Penin­sula.”

Jack­son and Vukovic both wanted to en­sure run­ning the li­braries was rev­enue neu­tral.

“Our li­braries are a vi­tal ser­vice for our com­mu­nity how­ever it’s im­por­tant that the county pays enough to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to at least cover the op­er­at­ing costs,” Jack­son said in an email.

She said li­braries are a county re­spon­si­bil­ity “which we al­ready pay for through the nearly 7 mil­lion we pay an­nu­ally in county taxes. We don’t want to sac­ri­fice any town ser­vices in or­der to pay a short­fall be­cause the new con­tract doesn’t pro­vide suf­fi­cient fi­nan­cial cov­er­age.”

The county pro­posed an an­nual two per cent in­crease in its 15-year con­tract.

Coun. Vukovic sug­gested short­en­ing the con­tract to a five-year term.

If after coun­cil has ex­pressed its con­cerns an agree­ment can­not be reached, “we’ll have to cross that bridge when it comes,” Jack­son said.

ZOE KESSLER/WIARTON ECHO

Bruce County Pub­lic Li­brary, Wiarton branch.

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