By Justin Seward
The Redcliff Public Library has only received 50 per cent of its operating grant from the government from last year as budget decisions are around the corner.
The decision effects all public libraries across the province after the UCP government announced last week it will only pay the libraries 50 per cent of their operating grants until a decision on what this year’s funding will be in the provincial budget come October.
“I’d hate to panic until it actually happens,” said Redcliff library manager Tracy Weinrauch.
“They’ve only given us 50 per cent. It doesn’t mean we’re going to get the other 50 per cent. It’s definitely up in the air.”
Weinrauch says the provincial government gives the library 13 per cent of their funding based on last year’s numbers, while their main funder is the Town of Redcliff which makes up 73 per cent.
“If we lose $15,000 out of our budget, we definitely have to revamp where (we are) spending money,” she said.
“What this funding does for us is (it)covers operational expenses. Whereas there aren’t many other funding opportunities that will cover your operational costs.”
Over the years, the Redcliff library has seen a decrease in checking out items, but when it comes to other services like public computers for helping people do their resumes and other online resources, that’s where there is an increase, she said.
“Unfortunately when there is an economic downturn, that’s when we’re the busiest,” said Weinrauch.
If the provincial government does decide to not fund the other 50 per cent, then Redcliff’s library will only get $15,500 instead of the $31,000.
The looming decision could mean cutbacks on spending and purchasing new items will be slower until a comfort level is reached in buying more items.
“We’re basically at the mercy of the government now and hoping we can continue service as we were,” said Weinrauch.