Population decline, modernization, wage increases cited reasons
© Justin Crann
Dave Richards delivers the proposed 2013 budget to a modest crowd at the Moose Jaw Public Library Thursday.
The Palliser Regional Library (PRL) released its 2013 budget during its fall regional board meeting at Moose Jaw Public Library on Thursday.
“We’re asking for a 99 cent per head levy increase,” said Dave Richards, an outgoing member of the PRL board and representative of the budget committee.
The increase would bring the base levy to $12.18 per person. According to the proposed budget, the total cost for the Moose Jaw community will be almost $60,000, pending amendments that will be made when city council releases its own budget.
According to Richards, the adjustment was made for “three big reasons.”
“The first is population drop,” he said, “You want to keep the same service going, but the population drops. The number (of people) you’re dividing by gets smaller and the (cost per person) gets bigger.”
“Rural depopulation needs to be addressed from a positive perspective,” echoed Jan Smith, director of the PRL, in an interview with the Times-Herald. “We are going down rurally, but people are still entitled to the same services, which unfortunately means that we have to get more money.”
Richards listed the recent wage increase made in contract negotiations with library staff and the acquisition and maintenance of community access points — including new hardware such as computers for library patrons — as the other key reasons for the levy increase.
Also addressed at the meeting was the need to update the existing library model to maintain relevance with a younger generation.
“Basically, libraries are changing,” Smith said. “It’s no longer just a book environment ... we are trying to provide access to downloadable e-books, downloadable music, downloadable videos ... the whole spectrum.”
“It’s basically taking the libraries into the 21st century, where books will be a part of it,” she added, “but a smaller part of it than they currently are.”