The Burns Lake Public Library is asking for financial aid from local government. (Eddie Huband photos/Lakes District News)

The Burns Lake Public Library is asking for financial aid from local government. (Eddie Huband photos/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake Public library in financial bind

Projecting significant deficit by 2023; asking local government for help

Members of the Burns Lake Public Library attended a special meeting with Village of Burns Lake on Nov. 9, to discuss the library’s current financial predicament.

Library Board Chair Paul Davidson along with Library Director Monika Willner outlined to council that based on revenue and expenditures, the library expects to be a deficit of $13,563 bu the end of 2021, and $54,775 by the end of 2022.

The projected opening day balance of 2023 is $36,938 , meaning that they will be unable to cover the cost of the deficit at that time. This will create a significant challenge to continued library operations without increased funding according to Davidson.

In 2021, Willner says that self-generated revenue was $10,000 less then the budget for various things like chairs, tables, a photocopier as well as other services. A big reason why the library is struggling is because employee hours have gone up since 2020, but in-library activity is significant less then it was pre-COVID-19. “Revenue is down, but employee hours are up as library operating hours improve,” said Willner

Davidson and Willner outlined to council that the library is doing what they can to save money, but the scale to which expenditures have been cur relative to how much they need wont be enough. “We have cut $12,400 from total expenditures, including the collections budget, literacy programs and professional development,” said Willner. Had those cuts not been made, the 2022 deficit would be even higher then their projection.

According to a chart provided in the presentation, $296,116, over 90 per cent of the library’s revenue came from local government funding as well as provincial funding.

Willner and Davidson provided council with several ways they can help the situation, the first of which being an increase in funding from the Village of Burns Lake by $50,000. “An injection of grant revenue will help us get through 2022 without severe cuts, and will ensure we can maintain cash reserves required for 2023 and beyond,” said Davidson.

In addition, council was asked to brainstorm any potential options for other sources of revenue, including purchasing a licensing grant to use it as a tool to apply for additional funding, additional funding from the arts and culture funding account, as well as reducing the library’s rent payments for 2022 and 2023.

No decisions on a direction were made by council at the time of the meeting.

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