By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber will be paying more for library services through the Chinook Arch Regional Library System following the approval of the organization’s four-year budget by town council.
At their Sept. 8 meeting, council voted unanimously to authorize the Chinook Arch Regional Library System Board 2015-2018 budget, along with associated municipal fees.
The Chinook Arch Library Board approved their 2015-2018 budget at the Chinook Arch Library Board meeting on Aug. 5. The budget calls for a three per cent increase (per annum) to the municipal levy paid by member municipalities, representing less than two per cent of the total municipal contribution, which includes both the municipal levy and the library board fee.
“When it comes to operating funds, most of the money comes from municipalities,” said Robin Hepher, an associate director with Chinook Arch. “Just under 54 per cent of our revenues comes from municipalities, with the rest coming from a provincial operating grant and other income. The budget only has to go to councils if there is a proposed levy increase.”
With a municipal fee based on population, a $0.21 fee increase per capita represents a total per capita increase of roughly $1,700 in town expenditures.
Through Chinook Arch in conjunction with local libraries, residents of southwestern Alberta have access to almost a million books, DVDs, audio books, and other resources that support literacy and lifelong learning.
Digital services include eBook and eAudiobook lending, streaming music and movies, downloadable magazines, and online courses.
“We budgeted a zero per cent increase in the provincial operating grant,” said Hepher. “We may well get some money from the province. In the last budget cycle we projected an increase from the province, but we didn’t get anything. They haven’t contributed any new per capita funding since 2009.”
According to the Chinook Arch System Agreement, and change in membership fees must be approved by two thirds of the member councils (26 councils) representing two thirds of the member population (123,490). Taber is one of 39 member municipalities.
The library system is funded primarily by member municipalities and library boards, as well as a provincial operating grant. The provincial operating grant has remained static since 2010.