Regina Public Library foregoing mill rate increase request amid funding cuts

Regina Public Library foregoing mill rate increase request amid funding cuts

Despite funding cuts in last month's provincial budget, Regina Public Library will forego asking the city to increase its mill rate as a budget supplement.

Libraries throughout Saskatchewan had their funding slashed while provincial funding for libraries in Saskatoon and Regina were cut entirely in last month's budget. In 2016, prior to their budget being slashed, RPL had requested a 2.9 per cent mill rate increase from the city for 2017, which was requested to maintain "momentum" built up from the previous year. 

Sean Quinlan, a chairperson on the RPL board of directors, says changes will have to be made but the current model is unsustainable. 

"Increasing the mill rate would help immensely because it would provide an immediate cash flow to make up for some of the losses," Quinlan said. 

Quinlan said the board decided the library's customers in the city have already felt the impact regarding the province's cuts, such as the increase of consumption taxes and removal of exemptions from some purchases.

The grants in lieu program being scrapped for 100 communities in the province, including Regina, meant further uncertainty for the city, which is facing an $11 million funding shortfall. 

"We don't know what they're going to do. There might be another impact on the citizens," he said. 

Additionally, the resources which would have gone toward the provincial inter-library loan program are no longer being allotted, Quinlan said.

For the next three quarters of their fiscal year, RPL will continue looking at changes which will have minimal impact, he said. Programs funded by the Literacy and Aboriginal services grant have also been stopped.

"If the province wants the program to continue, they have the ability to restore the funding for it," he claimed.