Library Square operations funded as part of 2021 Budget

·3 min read

As construction work continues on Library Square, money for its operations has been included as part of Aurora’s 2021 Operating Budget.

In the last Council meeting before the winter break, local lawmakers formally signed off on a 1.96 per cent increase on the municipal portion of the tax bill. This increase includes half-a-per-cent for Library Square, and a further 0.5 per cent will be factored into the 2022 Budget.

The approval came after Councillor Rachel Gilliland made a motion, which ultimately fizzled at the table, to defer the half-percent increase in 2022.

From her perspective, the 0.5 per cent increase in 2021 and 2022 was based on a business plan that, in her view, might be in need of some revisions given present uncertainty.

“We get an opportunity to save this year and maybe we will have a re-assessment then,” she contended, noting there are still sponsorship opportunities that could come forward to help offset Library Square’s operating costs. “I do feel we are all in the same boat where we…want to have a thriving Library Square that is functioning and paying for itself, and also giving back to the community.”

When asked by Councillor John Gallo what the impacts might be of deferring these operating costs until next year, Director of Finance Rachel Wainwright van Kessel said Library Square has a project manager already in place and there are ongoing costs related to the displacement of the Aurora Cultural Centre from 22 Church Street for the duration of the construction.

Deferring these costs for another year might save in 2021, she said, but those costs might increase in the interval.

“It leaves us pretty tight,” said Town CAO Doug Nadorozny on the possibility of deferring the issue. “If there are other expenses – for example, the Aurora Cultural Centre or other things we want to start early with regards to Library Square operations, we would have to come back to Council to find the funds for that if everything was spent as per the plan. We would have to add 0.5 per cent onto the budget for next year just to get us at ground zero.”

Asked by Councillor Michael Thompson how ongoing talks over the final governance model that will ultimately run Library Square might be impacted by a deferral, Mr. Nadorozny said neither the governance model nor business plan were cast in stone.

“We know we’re going to have three or four different entities that are all going to play a role in the overall performance of Library Square,” Mr. Nadorozny continued. “Depending on where that governance model goes and what resources are required by the various entities, you could start to deviate off the $720,000 plan.”

Replied Councillor Thompson: “While we have done our best to forecast the operational impact of Library Square, there still remains the potential that it could increase based upon the governance model and the needs of the various organizations, be it the Library, be it the Aurora Cultural Centre, or some hybrid model like that. So, in deferring this for next year, there is a possibility that it is only 0.5 but there is also a possibility it could be more.”

Mr. Nadorozny agreed that that is a possibility.

“We’re not exactly pinned down to the operating model for Library Square and its various entities,” he concluded “I am merely suggesting by deferring this to 2022, which is very doable, you would add 0.5 to the budget. If there were other stresses, we would have to find savings somewhere else or [go] beyond the 0.5.”

The motion to defer the operational funding for Library Square was defeated on a vote of 5 – 2 with Councillors Gilliland and Gallo voting in favour.

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran