by Colin Smith
Morinville Town council has approved $10,000 in bridge funding for Morinville Community Library so it can get through February without service reductions.
The decision came at the end of a discussion of options for Morinville’s 2022 operating and capital budgets at the council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 25.
Earlier in the meeting, Library Board trustee Linda Ladouceur made a presentation calling on Council to provide $592,000 thousand for the library, as previously requested, rather than the $442,000 allocated in the proposed 2022 budget.
Ladouceur pointed out that $442,000 is the same as the library’s 2021 budget, not taking into account the fact the library had returned to the Town $60,000 unspent because of staff layoffs.
Additionally, Sturgeon County has stopped providing the library with a direct $25,000 grant following the establishment of its recreation partnership agreement with Morinville.
The Town is currently operating on an interim budget that provides for expenditures of 20% of those set out in the proposed operating budget brought to Council in December, to cover basic expenses for the first part of the year.
Ladouceur stated that this is not enough for the Morinville Community Library to maintain its current service levels and avoid staff layoffs.
“We are struggling greatly to make the funds work that we have been offered,” she said.
Without additional funding, the library would have to cut its hours substantially at a time when service demands are high, according to Ladouceur.
“Needs are greater than they have ever been with people looking for help with housing, with jobs, all those things that the general public is suffering from right now,” she said. “We are one of the few places in Morinville that are being asked to provide a lot of support for that.”
Commented Councillor Maurice St. Denis, “I think I underestimated how much the library has filled some of those service gaps during the pandemic.”
Ladouceur was given a sympathetic hearing by councillors and following the meeting’s budget discussions Councillor Scott Richardson moved that $50,000 in bridge funding be given to the library to allow it to continue current operations until the 2022 budget operational budget is adopted, which must be by March 31.
However, it was considered that the budget would probably be finalized by the end of February, and Ladouceur said an additional $5,000 would be adequate for that time period. After a consensus amendment that set the figure at $10,000, the motion passed 6-0, with Councillor Jenn Anheliger not at the meeting.