Library to use District grant writer

Houston council turned down a request from the Public Library for an increase in their annual grant from the District.

The District of Houston Grant Writer Valerie Anderson will help the Library apply for funding.

The Houston Public Library asked council for a nine percent increase, $9,500, in their annual Grant for Assistance from the District of Houston.

The Library ran a deficit budget of $10,672 in 2013, with total income of $152,202 and total costs of $162,874. Over 70 per cent of their budget, $105,500, came from the District of Houston grant, Director of Finance William Wallace reported to council on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Over the past four years, the Library hasn’t asked for any increases, so the increases can be viewed as a catch-up, Wallace wrote in his report.

“The Library’s need for increased support appears reasonable and is primarily connected with higher staffing costs,” he said.

Council declined the requested increase at this time, opting to revisit it in March during their next budget meeting.

“We’ve got to start cutting,” said Councillor Rick Lundrigan.

“It’s a tough decision, it’s a valuable thing in our community, but is it the wisest way to spend the money? At the end of the day we need to start making our choices. I think this is one of them where we should at least consider not giving them the full amount they requested,” he said.

Councillor Michalle Jolly agreed.

“We do have to start making cuts, but I think that the Library is rather important. It’s a free facility where people can go to and when times are tough we need to have these kinds of facilities open,” she said.

“I see it as one of the public uses that we can’t be cutting at this point,” she said.

Councillor Kyle Thomson said he’d rather not give the increase, clarifying that they would not cut Library funding, they just wouldn’t increase their funding.

William Wallace, Houston Director of Finance said the funding increase fits into the base 2014 budget, which covers all the projects that need to be done.

“I feel badly for these guys,” Wallace said.

“Here they are coming along to try and catch up… and they couldn’t have timed it worse.

“Looking at their figures, I’m not quite sure I fathom exactly how they are running the show, because even with the ask it appears that there’s still a deficit built into their annual operations,” Wallace said.

He added that the requested increase is not aggressive.

Councillor Dawn Potvin said she would like to consider giving them a smaller increase, rather than no increase.

Council agreed to give the Library use of the grant writer’s services to look for other funding opportunities, and then reconsider District funding in March.