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Town and county unhappy with Clyde's library decision

Clyde’s refusal to buy in to the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board left the board crunching numbers in hopes of pleasing town and county councillors as well as library users, but it won’t mean higher costs for the town or county.

Clyde’s refusal to buy in to the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board left the board crunching numbers in hopes of pleasing town and county councillors as well as library users, but it won’t mean higher costs for the town or county.

After Village of Clyde council rejected the original budget proposal on Oct. 18, the Westlock Intermunicipal Library Board had to go back to the drawing board to reevaluate its budget, trying to make up for the $9,520 it was originally asking from the village.

“Town and county haven’t seen the budget yet,” said Doug Whistance-Smith, director of the Westlock Library. “But I did not increase, in the revamped budget without Clyde, I did not increase town and county contributions a cent.”

The original proposal had Clyde contributing four per cent of the annual operating budget equaling $9,520 with an additional fee of $4.30 per capita for the Yellowhead Regional Library fee, which totals $2,120. Clyde’s total contribution was proposed at $11,640, which was rejected.

The same proposal had the town and county each contributing 48 per cent of the annual operating budget, equaling $119,000, with the additional Yellowhead Regional Library fee.

Although Clyde rejected this proposal and is faced with a counteroffer charging just $4,760 for two per cent of the budget, Whistance-Smith said the cost to both town and county will not increase to pick up the slack.

“It’s a bare bones budget. There are no frills,” he said. “There’s nothing extra or added except for what we had said we were going to add, which was increased hours for staff, increased hours of operation by six hours per week and the benefits plan for the staff.”

The Westlock Library is set to run a deficit of $281 in 2012, unless the Village of Clyde accepts the updated proposal, he said.

Instead of making the town and county carry the burden of Clyde, the library reworked the budget, cutting expenses in various areas. Whistance-Smith said he slashed the computer-purchasing budget in half and reduced the electronic and audiobook-purchasing budget by $3,000.

“If Clyde were to kick in, it would allow us to put the money back into the budget lines where I had to take it out of the expenses,” he said.

Westlock Library will present the budget to town council on Tuesday, Nov. 1, while the county will have to wait until Nov. 29.

“We feel that the Yellowhead Library has been a real success story in our area and it’s used by not only the town, but surrounding areas in the county and so on,” said Town of Westlock Mayor Bruce Lennon. “We’d like to see (Clyde) involved and provide the service to their community.”

Westlock County council discussed the matter during their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and several councillors expressed frustration over Clyde’s decision.

“Clyde refused to get in for $11,000. Then I see that the manager of the library … offered them a reduction,” said Coun. Mike Cook. “How can that be? How can they go ahead with that? If they don’t pay, we do.”

Clyde is not expected to make a decision on whether or not to join the board until after budget deliberations, which are being scheduled hopefully before the New Year, according to village administration.

The Yellowhead Regional Library presented its budget to county council last week, which did not show a change in the per capita fee, so it remains at $4.30.