New library funding model asking Guysborough for additional $17,000

GUYSBOROUGH: The Municipality of the District of Guysborough has been notified by the Deputy Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage of plans to change the funding formula for libraries – something the municipality won’t be able to afford.

Council passed a motion to send a letter to the department advising that due to a significant loss of roughly $3.5 million in commercial taxation from the decommissioning of the offshore gas industry, the municipality is not in a position to provide the increase in their contributions to the library board.

CAO Barry Carroll explains that when compared to the 2015-16 fiscal year, the new funding formula would mandate an additional $17,508, bringing the total to $45,700, which is a $9,700 increase from their 2018 figures.

The increases are a result of two factors, one the funding was changed in relation to French and equity grants, which were 100 per cent funded by the province, which will now be cost-shared by the municipality.

The second reason was there had been no increases since the 2010-11 fiscal year and it was necessary for them to incorporate a percentage for each year, which resulted in a significant increase for the municipality.

Following the municipality’s regular council meeting on February 20, Warden Vernon Pitts said the municipality will still provide the $36,000 like they did last year, but will not be providing the increase that’s being asked for under the proposed formula.

“The province is downloading more on us as municipalities,” he said. “Maybe a number of years ago we’d be open to that because we had the financial wherewithal to do it, but we’re in a financial crunch right now.”

A spokeswoman for the department declined The Reporter’s request for an interview.

“We are currently in the stage of sharing information with municipalities across the province and gathering all feedback which will help inform final decisions on a new formula,” Lynette Macleod said in a written statement. “It is premature to provide any specific details at this time as these discussions are ongoing and no final decisions have been made.”

She did explain that the new formula will differ from the previous model in that it moves away from a population-based approach and reflects a balance considering the core operating needs of the nine regional library boards.

Pitts said while the municipality is cutting back on some of its programming, they’re not looking at cutting any funding to the library and will remain with the status-quo.

“Maybe if we were more flush but we’ll still continue to give them the same allotment of $36,000 as we did last year.”