Budget cutbacks planned for area Okanagan Regional Library branches will be more closely aligned with local tax revenue generated.
The ORL says this is an attempt to restore fiscal balance between its member communities.
It is the outcome of a review of different aspects of the ORL’s operation, started in 2013 by the auditing firm Grant Thornton, to take a look at expenditures versus revenue for each individual member community across the regional library system.
The report found that spending in some communities was out of alignment with tax revenue received, and the ORL board subsequently directed management to create a plan to address this.
According to ORL Communications Manager Michelle Rule, the Keremeos branch is one of those communities where more money is spent than is being taken in by the branch.
“Our funding formulas are based on 50 per cent contributions from population assessments and 50 per cent from property taxes,” Rule said, “in Keremeos the budget is out of balance, with more being spent than is being received.”
Rule said the ORL board is currently working on a plan to address the imbalance.
“We don’t know yet what the impact will be in Keremeos,” she said, “we expect to meet with local staff later this year or early next year to address the issue.”
Rule said any possible solutions could take up to two years to implement.
“We’re already a pretty lean machine,” she said, “it’s not going to be easy to find cuts.”
She said the board and staff would work together to find a funding solution, and prior to any plan being implemented, the community would be informed.
“Once a plan is formulated, we’ll be presenting it to (village) council and the general public first,” Rule said, adding that if staff cuts are contemplated, it is hoped they will be achieved through attrition.
In total 12.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions will be reduced across 19 libraries in the Okanagan Region. All of the positions being eliminated are frontline staff; there are no plans to reduce management positions.
Vernon, Kelowna and Salmon Arm branches will be the hardest hit with staffing cuts, even though these are some of the busiest branches in the region. The downtown Kelowna and Salmon Arm branches will also see hours of service reduced.