Library budget aligned with local tax revenue

Spending in some communities was out of alignment with tax revenue received.

Budget cutbacks for area Okanagan Regional Library branches will be more closely aligned with local tax revenue generated.

The ORL says this is an attempt to restore fiscal balance between its member communities.

It is the outcome of a review of different aspects of the ORL’s operation, started in 2013 by the auditing firm Grant Thornton, to take a look at expenditures versus revenue for each individual member community across the regional library system.

The report found that spending in some communities was out of alignment with tax revenue received, and the ORL board subsequently directed management to create a plan to address this.

ORL chief executive officer Stephanie Hall drafted a staffing level plan for branches where spending needed to be reduced, and created a process where both unions and individual branches can provide input into the plan.

Hall says in many cases, this input will result in modifications to the plan. Once this work is complete, a finalized plan for each of those communities will be shared with the public to gather feedback.

The ORL says staff changes under the plan would be implemented over multiple years, as opportunities arise.  In addition to local and centralized staffing, ORL is also reviewing other spending areas, including facilities costs and centralized services.

Hall acknowledged that the library is undergoing a  difficult process.

“There is no doubt that these are tough questions. Public libraries and our incredible staff are hugely valued in communities,” Hall said.

“With over 150,000 library members, our service is one of the most-used  public services communities offer. At the same time, the ORL is committed to fiscal transparency and fairness, and by moving pro-actively to align costs with revenue across communities, we’re living up to our commitments to local government, who are our major funders.”

The Okanagan Regional Library stretches from Golden to Osoyoos, serving 29 branch locations.

Public interest in library offerings appears to be on the rise, with the ORL noting a 12 per cent increase in program attendance and a 56 per cent increase in free downloads of ebooks, audiobooks and music.

 

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