By Stew Slater
One St. Marys Town Councillor is wondering whether the “numbers add up,” another has asked to see statistics about facility usage, and Mayor Steve Grose has requested a business plan, as Town Council begins 2013-14 budget deliberations that will likely include a request of up to $500,000 — minus Perth South’s share of the cost, minus some potential grant contributions, and minus community fundraising — for the installation of an elevator and renovation of the basement at St. Marys Public Library.
At a preliminary budget meeting on Tuesday Oct. 9 and again at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16, Councillor Lynn Hainer was asked to provide insight into renovation proposals from library administration and the Library Board. The board of directors acts at arms-length from Town of St. Marys administration, so library staff members aren’t typically on hand to answer questions during Council meetings. Hainer serves as a Council representative to the board of directors.
Minutes from the Oct. 9 budget meeting reveal Grose “asked that the library project be pushed into another year to permit time to explore a business plan.” He expressed surprise that the renovation of the basement to create storage space could cost $300,000.
According to the minutes, Hainer responded that “a strategic plan for the library will be released shortly.”
Then at the Oct. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting, Councillor Carey Pope questioned the estimated $100,000 elevator installation cost cited in that meeting’s information package. Noting that councillors had already heard a different proposed cost at the Oct. 9 budget meeting, Pope suggested, “I don’t really don’t see how those numbers add up.”
Hainer responded that the $100,000 estimate cited in the Oct. 16 information package was based on an earlier projection. “The most recent estimate, I believe, is more like $200,000,” she clarified.
Councillor Don Van Galen, meanwhile, encouraged Hainer to inform the Library board that councillors would like to “obtain some numbers tracking usage.”
He added board members “have made some significant requests for capital with regards to expansion. So I would like to know some specifics on needs.”
The Oct. 16 Committee of the Whole information package explained there are plans to apply for grants from Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit Fund, Human Resources Skills Development Canada, and the Stratford and Perth Community Foundation. “Friends of the Library (FOL) is building on their existing fund to support the project,” adds the report.
Hainer said the Library board of directors plans to make budget presentations in the coming weeks to both St. Marys Town Council and Perth South Township Council.
FOL, the charitable group which raises money to support St. Marys Public Library programs and facilities, holds its annual Fall Used Book Sale from Nov. 8-10.