by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Councillor’s were hit with asks from the Musée Morinville Museum, Morinville Community Library, and the Morinville Festival Society as part of their annual budget process during their most recent Committee of the Whole meeting. Each of the organizations made presentations detailing their budgets and the amount they were asking for from the Town.
Museum budget sees modest 5 per cent bump
The Morinville Historical and Cultural Society brought forward a $113,700 budget this year, asking for $102,000 from the Town. This request is an increase of $5,000 (5 per cent) in Town funding from the previous year’s $109,757.94 budget, $97,000 coming from the Town. Presenter Murray Knight also noted that the Museum is on track to have a surplus of $1,326.24 this year, with surpluses being commonplace in the Museum’s budgeting.
The museum has seen 1,900 visitors so far in 2016, including approximately 800 at this year’s Canada Day celebrations.
Library budget includes acknowledgment that County should pick up the tab
The Morinville library has upped their budget request from the Town from $383, 897 in 2016 to $433, 753 in 2017, a 13 per cent increase. This increase is largely due to a request from the library to stay open seven days a week, something that has been recently funded piecemeal season-to-season by Council following cuts from their anticipated budget in 2016. Also, wage increases associated with the recent and upcoming bumps in the minimum wage have lead to increases as well as some new staff training initiatives.
Sturgeon County has historically contributed almost nothing directly to the Library’s annual budget, despite making up approximately 40 per cent of the Library’s membership. The county budgeted $3,000 to the Morinville Community Library in their annual budget, but the board asserts they have not yet received this funding. The Library board has submitted a request to the County Council to increase their contribution to $200,000 a year, putting them closer in line with Morinville’s contribution on a per user basis. No response has yet been received, but the Board has committed anything extra the library receives as part of an increase in county funding will be returned to the Town.
The Library’s total budget is $598,781, with the remainder of funding coming from library transfers, library sponsorships, fundraising, room rental and library memberships and fees, as well as provincial funding.
In 2015, the library saw 34,617 visitors, circulated just under 100,000 materials, and saw 4,000 computer users. Final stats for 2016 are yet to be tabulated but are expected to be approximately in line with previous years, which have seen steady increases.
Festival Society reports $25,000 festival deficit
The Morinville Festival Society has reported both a large deficit in 2016 operations and is requesting $35,000 in funding for 2017 from the Town. Their shortfall of $32,215.76, is largely due to lower than expected attendance and participation in this year’s St. Jean Baptiste Festival, the organization’s largest event as well as having to replace the profit-making midway with approximately $38,000 in inflatable rentals to replace the midway.
They also came hat in hand, asking for a grant of $35,000 from the Town to keep themselves afloat for next year. The Society, which also operates the Town’s Farmer’s Market and other events, has received some encouragement from Council in the past to work towards becoming a self-sufficient organization, with limited or no Town funding outside of advertising or sponsorship. Their 2016 budget request was cut before final approval to $18,500 from the asked $35,000.
The group isn’t only looking to the Town for making up lost revenue, however, with nearly $50,000 in shortfalls, they only asked $35,000 to come from the Town, with the rest to be made up themselves through partnerships, sponsorships, and donations.
Council will hold a budget open house in Council Chambers Nov. 2 with Administrative presentations from 1 to 5 p.m., a public open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and public presentations from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Budget 2017 is expected to be given first reading Oct. 25.