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Library access in question for Clyde residents

Putting $11,640 towards a library that only a quarter of residents use was just too much for Village of Clyde councillors, who rejected the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board’s proposal at their Oct. 18 meeting.

Putting $11,640 towards a library that only a quarter of residents use was just too much for Village of Clyde councillors, who rejected the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board’s proposal at their Oct. 18 meeting.

Councillors decided by a 4-1 vote that they did not want to be part of the Yellowhead Library Systems under the proposal they were presented with in mid-September.

“I think it’s pertinent for this council to consider good value for our dollars spent, whether or not it’s for the library board or any other project we’re doing,” said Coun. Doug Nyal, adding he felt the cost was extravagant.

As an effort to get council to sign in to the agreement, Doug Whistance-Smith, director of the Westlock Library, sent a letter backed by the library board to village CAO Melanie Beastall, which proposed a decreased cost for 2012.

“Having Clyde’s participation is certainly more important than the dollar value attached and we are certainly willing to negotiate an amicable partnership rather than alienate the community or penalize the library patrons who reside in the village,” he said.

In the letter, he proposed to adjust the contribution request to just $6,880, which is 59 per cent of the original $11,640 request.

The elements making up this cost is a portion of the operating budget, which was reduced from four per cent to just two per cent for a total of $4,760 instead of $9,520. The remaining cost comes from a $4.30 per capita fee to buy in to the Yellowhead Regional Library System, which totals $2,120.

Beastall responded to the letter and said she would bring the requisition forward to council during budget deliberations, which was a major concern for some councillors.

Mayor Wayne Wilcox expressed concern that the board was seeking a decision by Nov. 1, which falls before the village goes into budget deliberations.

“They’re putting us on a timeline to decide our own budget and personally, I’m not willing to say, OK, we’re going to push our budget when we haven’t even gone into budget deliberations to look at it just to suit them,” he said.

Wilcox suggested that they table the decision until after budget deliberations for 2012, however, deputy mayor Bob Gault wanted to see a decision made.

“I put a motion that we forget it and take a vote on it and see if that passes. We’re either going to discuss it more or get it off the table. Let’s make a decision tonight,” Gault said.

Even though council voted the proposal down, the library board decided to extend library usage for Clyde residents for up to six months, until council discusses the new proposal and delivers its decision.

If, after deliberating the reduced fee, Clyde decides to stick with their decision to reject the proposal, library users will either have restricted usage or will be required to purchase a non-resident-status card, which comes at stiff charge of between $50 and $100, said Whistance-Smith.

The restricted usage would include being denied access to audio-visual materials, including audio-books and electronic data and not being able to order books from other municipalities or libraries.

“It looks like the only services they would be allowed would be the borrowing of five books that are on the shelves in the Westlock Library at the time,” said Beastall.

There was a survey conducted in the village to gauge residents’ reactions to the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board’s original proposal. A total of 18 votes had 11 in favour of joining while seven were opposed.

Coun. Diana Vosseler, who is the Clyde representative for the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board, she said she felt the survey showed that the village wanted to stay with the library, however she faced opposition.

“My experience with surveys in the village is if you’re for something you answer the survey and if you’re not for it or you don’t use it, you don’t even consider answering the survey,” said Nyal.

The $11,640 needed to buy-in to the library was a qualifying project for the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), which is a government-funded allocation of money to help smaller municipalities thrive.

The Village of Clyde has $100,000 allocated to them each year by the Government of Alberta for MSI funding.

“The village currently has difficulty finding projects for our MSI operating so this project would fit under that criteria,” Beastall said.

The lower fee proposed by the board is not eligible for MSI funding, as it does not meet the minimum requirement of $10,000.

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