Archive for ◊ December, 2010 ◊

08 Dec 2010 Library tough decision
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Last nights council meeting was interesting as we debated and agreed to build the library expansion.
Although the size will be smaller than orginally hoped for, it is a compromise that all council members agreed to. Here is the motion made along with my comments.

Motion to compromise
“Be it resolved that the City proceed in 2011 with a $1.9 million expansion of the Jake Epp Library. Funding for this expansion will come from the following: $900,000 debenture already approved, $600,000 Provincial grant, approximately $400,000 from additional City funds.

Be it further resolved that under no circumstances shall the city’s total contribution to the costs of the library expansion exceed $1.4 million.

Be it further resolved that the project maximize the possible footprint of the addition by putting emphasis on book storage, lending and open spaces.”

As indicated by the defeat of the 3rd reading we as a council need to work at a compromise to ensure expansion of the library moves forward.

The motion as made, to build a $1.9 million expansion does a number of items.
• It does not include any additional borrowing to complete the expansion; the city will only borrow the $900,000 already approved in by-law 1865 final reading April 2009.
• The grant of $600,000 is additional funds and is the only piece that is at risk due to the fact we haven’t seen the provincial requirements attached to the funding.
• The rest of the approximate $400,000 of funding will be taken out City funds, where the funds come from are yet to be determined, likely a combination of reserve and operating funds. To make this happen, some city projects will need to be moved to future years.
• The total contribution by the city would be $1.4 million made up of the $900,000 borrowed and approximately $400,000 from the City funds.

The original $2.8 million dollar price tag included costs that are no longer required under our new zoning by-laws.
• Approximately $250,000 for expanded parking lot
• The initial footprint had additional washrooms added which are high cost items
These two will save approximately $400,000 in construction costs that can be put back into the open space required

The key is that it is a compromise in a variety of ways, it reduces the borrowing needed, it provides an expansion that is desperately needed. It demonstrates that our residents have been heard during the election campaign on both of these issues.

It has been stated by everyone involved in the library expansion discussion that it is needed, it is the amount of dollars to be spent that is the issue. This motion addresses both of those issues as we reduce the dollars spent and hold the borrowing to the $900,000.

• The Jake Epp Library was originally built in 1996 with 8,000 sq ft. with plans to expand to double the size by 2003
• Expansion will take place to the west side of the library moving into the park.
• The Jake Epp library has long been the busiest library in Manitoba. Review of the last 7 years indicates that the last 5 years we have the highest circulation at 22.5 books taken out per capita versus the provincial average of 7.7.
• Approximately 76% of Steinbach residences hold a library card plus we serve a large surrounding population that pays $75 per household to belong to our library.
• Currently have over 13,000 members
• The last number of years we have not been able to add books as our shelves are full to overflowing restricting our on shelf books to max out at 65,000.
• The library program is a City program that has been effective in promoting learning and providing an opportunity to explore worlds, theories and concepts in a non threatening environment.
• The library offers services that enrich our lives, expand our vision and increase our ability to have a positive influence on the world around us.
• The library is a gathering space for our community that is open to everyone.
• For me this is an investment in our community it is one of those amenities that improves our quality of life making Steinbach a great place to live
• We can now respond that we have heard our taxpayers and made what I view as a positive compromise, we have reduced borrowing and can build an expansion
• We have all heard the different opinions and vision regarding this issue, it is time to make this decision and move the yardsticks forward with the expansion cost in this motion for $1.9 million.