By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
During Vauxhall council’s last meeting on Feb. 13 it responded to a letter they received from the Vauxhall Public Library, which outlined their need for more funding.
With members of the council questioning why they were unable to support the library with their new funding request, Vauxhall Mayor Ray Coad supplied an honest and simple response to the question.
“There was just no money,” said Coad.
With the conversation focused on the funding the town is providing to the library, another comment was brought up regarding what the Town’s vision for the library would be with Coun. Margaret Plumtree responding.
“That’s not our vision,” said Plumtree. “This is their vision of what they want. Then how are they going to strategize to make sure that they’re going to afford that version?”
“That’s right,” said Coad. “A business plan. Something that takes them into the 22nd century.”
An idea that was brought up during this discussion was how the entire situation revolving around funding is potentially a misunderstanding where both parties in the form of the Town and the library believe it is the other’s problem. Also, during this discussion there was discontentment that the library was not bringing any ideas forward.
“The library is a child of the Town for sure,” said Coad. “We are the organization that created the environment for it to operate in, but that doesn’t mean we’re micromanaging their affairs. If that’s the case, then we don’t really need a library board, and it’s up to them to state what their vision is. What do they want to do? That has not been stated. I think that they think that that has been stated, but it’s not particularly clear.”
After a little more discussion some council members had the sentiment that the library was targeting more funding. On this the mayor once again spoke up.
“I think we’re done,” said Coad. “I have no problem going to the library board and asking them to tell us what you want to do. Put it into a plan that we can relate to, and that we can accept. A plan that demonstrates their leadership in the community.”
Another point that was brought up was how it seems that the library may be nearing the point where if they don’t receive new funding they might fold and no longer be able to operate.
“I guess that’s their decision,” said Coad. “We didn’t make that decision for them. We have to be frugal with the Town’s money.”
After further discussion, council ultimately did want to support the library board and the library in general, with the mayor weighing in.
“If they’re taking council’s decision as a lack of support then we need to talk to them about that, because I don’t think that’s what this council is all about,” said Coad. “It’s been a tough year. We’ve had a tough budget and they are not the only organization experiencing not getting what they want. I wish to have that kind of financial base where you could’ve given them whatever they wanted. Not only them but public works, recreational, the arena. None of them are experiencing anywhere close to what it is causing them to operate. Taxpayer’s ultimately responsible because that’s the only source of income we have.”
“I agree with a lot of what’s being said,” said Plumtree. “For sure we do support them, but it’s just that their budget doubled this year with no real explanation or justification for it that council could determine, that was worth taking taxpayer dollars. They do need, like our mayor said, a business plan. They need to figure out where they want to be and how exactly they are going to get there, and it can’t just be on taxpayer’s funds. They have to figure out other ways of doing that, and that’s all part of the viability. We can’t as a council go into an organization, and tell them how to run their business. They’re their own legal entity under the societies. It’s kind of up to them so they can request money, but if they can’t justify their request or it doubles for no reason that makes it difficult for anyone to increase those dollars.”
Finally, it was brought up that if the library wants to change their current position, they would need to file a petition and get public support to implement a tax that Vauxhall residents would be charged to financially support the library.
No resolution was passed by council at the conclusion of the discussion.