Keremeos leads way on pushing for library funding reform

Keremeos has started a new chapter in the fight for fair funding at public libraries.

 

Keremeos has started a new chapter in the fight for fair funding at public libraries.

At the most recent council meeting councillors voted unanimously to support a resolution to be brought forward at the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention in 2016.

The resolution calls on the province to establish an adequate funding model for libraries in rural areas with a population less than 5,000.

Currently the province funds libraries using a formula of half the converted value of land and improvements and half the population of the service area.

In rural areas the population and often the land values ore much lower than in urban centres, which results in insufficient funding and hardship to residents who are more dependent on library services, a report prepared for council stated.

“It’s something that’s affecting many communities and the funding formula needs to change for rural communities,” Mayor Manfred Bauer said.

After the Okanagan Library Board made changes to how it funds the Keremeos library, council was thrust into a position to either step up and find funding for the shortfall or to see the library lose about 20 staff hours.

A decision was made by Keremeos council, Area B and Area G (minus Hedley) to fund the shortfall. Keremeos’ portion, just shy of $8,000, will be paid through the contingency fund this year and next year a tax requisition bylaw is expected to be approved.

This year’s SILGA convention will be held in Kelowna in April.

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