Library seeks 34% funding increase for 2016

Morinville Public Library Board Vice-Chair Amy Guenette and Library Manager Isabelle Cramp speak to Council at the Oct. 13 Committee of the Whole meeting about their 2016-2018 budget.

by Lucie Roy

The Morinville Community Library is asking the Town of Morinville for $413,897 in funding for 2016, a 34.75 per cent increase over 2015’s request. That number is set to go up to $436,637.00 (5.5%) in 2017 and to $452,538.00 (3.65%) in 2018.

Library Manager Isabelle Cramp and Board Vice Chair Amy Guenette presented to Council during Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting Oct. 13. Also present was Board Chair Keith Norris.

Cramp said the library continues to be a popular destination for residents in the area, one that is pen 58 hours per week. “The library has seen by the end of August 21,625 visitors come through the door,” Cramp told Council.

In the budget presentation, Library Board Vice Chair Amy Guenette told Council staffing is a huge issue in the library and that it had become necessary in 2014 to have three hourly employees at the front desk at all times. Additionally, they added a salaried supervisor position to contain staff costs. Staff turnover in 2014-2015 prompted the board to request a report on employee turnover and cost for the library, as well as salary and wage study.

“In 2014, we had 40 per cent turnover with an estimated cost of $13,000 to the library. This cost includes advertising, hiring process, training over time and such,” she said. “We requested staffing and wage information from many libraries in our area that met the same population and area of employment criteria as ours. We found that the wages and salaries that we have to offer were consistently lower than the competition making it extremely difficult for us to attract and retain qualified employees.”

The library’s study of their wages and salaries revealed some inconsistencies with the level of pay and level of responsibility that need to be addressed. As such, the budget request increase reflects the first steps in closing the gap between what the Morinville library and other libraries pay their staff. It is a move they believe will help them retain qualified staff.

Compounding the issue is the $1 per hour increase in minimum wage that took place Oct. 1. “Our current salary grid entry wage now falls below minimum wage,” Guenette told Council. “With the proposed increases in the next few years, the library needs to be proactive and make necessary adjustments over the next few years.”

Also factored into the increase in funding request is The Northern Lights Library System, (NLLS) levy that will increase by approximately $20,000 due to the provinces decision to use the 2014 census numbers instead of the 2011 numbers used for the past four years. “The library has to pay both portions of the levy, the Municipal and the Board,” Guenette said. “This is where our extra provincial funding will be going.”

Guenette went on to say programming revenues and expenses are balanced out to reflect the fact that the library’s programs are operated on a cost recovery principle. Fundraising, sponsorships, donations and volunteer involvement are still key factors to successful programming.
The other expenses have been kept to a minimum increase or status quo.

Individual councillors questioned the presenters on a drop of fundraising initiatives by the board and the possibility of cutting hours should Council not approve the 34.75 per cent increase.

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