Library dealing with budget cuts
Town okays new library then cuts funds to operate said library?
The Richmond Hill Library Board will be dealing with the impact of a Richmond Hill Town Council budget decision at an upcoming meeting.
On Feb. 26, council approved an increase of 2.4 per cent in municipal funding for library services. This is an increase of $217,100 to the $9,047,500 in municipal funding provided in 2018. The board had requested an increase of 5.9 per cent, or $533,800.
David Bishop, chair of the Richmond Hill Library Board, said that the board needs the extra funding to cover operating costs associated with the new Oak Ridges Library and increasing demand for online services.
According to Bishop, in 2013, council approved the library board’s recommendation that a new library was needed in Oak Ridges. After extensive community consultations, the project got underway in 2015. The project has been marked by delays, but Bishop said it’s 90 per cent done and is expected to open in 2019.
“And that’s all wonderful. There’s only one thing,” said Bishop. “Plus 2.4 per cent to operate a library three times larger? Now isn’t that just puzzling. How does that work?”
Bishop stressed that the library was built by the town and not the library board, whose job it is to provide the services in the building. “Come on guys, this is not a secret! You’re building the building!” said Bishop. “And you’re not providing funding for us to operate the building.”
Ward 6 councillor Godwin Chan said he was against the 5.9 per cent increase and sought to have the increase set at 3.87 per cent, which he said would be enough to provide the same level of services without cutbacks.
After his motion was not adopted by the majority, Chan voted for the 2.4 per cent increase.
“I did do my part to have the library services maintained,” said Chan.
Ward 3 councillor Castro Liu, who is also on the library board, supported the 5.9 per cent increase as well as Chan’s motion.
He said he thinks the 2.4 per cent increase was adopted to send a strong message to all the departments across Richmond Hill that the town is sticking with the inflation rate. A meeting on March 28 was to be the first time the library board met in the aftermath of council’s decision, and the library board was expecting to present recommendations to how the board can respond.
“It’s a big impact to the library, let’s put it this way,” said Liu.
The new Oak Ridges Library is scheduled to open this year