Friday, October 5, 2007

The spoiled child

Despite the city's three per cent target increase for department budgets, the nine-member London Public Library Board — which includes councillors Nancy Branscombe, David Winninger and Gina Barber — unanimously agreed this week to submit a request to Board of Control for a 6.4 per cent hike instead. As readers might recall, council last year acceded to the Library's request for a 4.6 per cent increase, submitting to the Library's threats to close branches or reduce operating hours after the Library had already approved expenditures contained in the unapproved over-target portion of its budget. The threats, if not yet the pre-emptive spending strikes, are repeated in this year's budget request. It should also be noted that council also approved earlier this summer setting aside $25,000 in reserve to cover any potential human resource budget shortfalls that the Library might experience in this budget year.

We'll have more to say about the details of the Library's budget request once we've digested the 53-page document (PDF), but in the meantime certain facts we reported last year bear repeating. In addition to last year's 4.6 per cent increase, the city's funding of the Library increased 14 per cent between 2003 and 2006, averaging an annual 4.8 per cent increase, and the Library is forecasting still yet another increase in 2009 above the city's three per cent target. And according to the city's own Financial Report Card 2006, the city spent $52 per resident on libraries in 2005, well above the $44 median of other Ontario municipalities as compiled from the BMA Municipal Study 2006. At the same time, the Library's holdings of 3.08 per capita are significantly lower than the average of 3.30 according to OMBI data (Service Growth 2007 PDF).

Although most Londoners would probably be satisfied with the Library system's service, much of their relatively substantial investment is hidden in taxes, for which they appear to be receiving a relatively poor return.

1 Comment:

Jake said...

After years of City Hall giving the LPL carte blache at budget time, they know that they will get whatever they want. More inflationary spending is just what the taxpayer needs.

The LPL wants to extend the branch hours of the Glanworth Library--The least used in the system that serves a tiny hamlet of 50 people. Everyone in that "town" has a car and can drive to Jalna Branch in less than 10 minutes for god sakes.

The library should be closing the useless Glanworth Branch altogether --not extending hours for it.