After a few unexpected egresses earlier this year, the Trail and District Public Library recently found itself in a bit of a bind.
The board asked Trail council to waive a $17,400 deficit, which was a request city officials denied at the last council meeting on June 22.
The cash shortfall added to further negative equity over three years, totalling almost $140,000.
There was a turnaround in 2014 when the facility ran with a surplus, so instead of forgiving the debt, Trail council agreed to be flexible with repayment.
The decision was not unanimous with Coun. Robert Cacchioni opposing the recommendation.
“If you look at all the different organizations we’ve bailed out, we’ve made major concessions to a number of groups, clubs and organizations,” he said, mentioning the library shortfalls were labour-related with one leave followed by two successive retirements. “Even though the numbers are there we actually saved money over the last couple of years by being really frugal. It’s just that everything came about at one particular point in time,” he added. “I would forgive this as I voted to forgive a number of organizations and sporting clubs over the years.”
The analysis contained in the report to council suggested the cash shortfall was more attributed to operating deficits that were realized in 2011, 2012 and 2013, explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer. “Which resulted in a major reduction of cash balances from 2011 to 2014,” he confirmed. “Fortunately the board did recognize a healthy surplus in 2014 and the cash issue should short itself out over time.”
Regardless what group it is, they need to be accountable for their budget, maintains Coun. Lisa Pasin. “I would really be concerned to send the message that the city is always going to be there to back stop you when you are given a budget and you are not making your budget,” she explained. “It’s like any business regardless of what it is.”
Trail Mayor Mike Martin clarified the issue saying it is a matter of liquidity, noting the deficit came suddenly and after council already secured the 2015 budget.
“The other part is that the library board came to the city with a budget request (in March),” he said. “We fully supported that budget, $420,500, which was a three per cent increase from last year.”
Another aspect is the recent renewal of the Recreation and Library Funding agreement with Warfield. The city didn’t allot as much money to the Trail facility as in the expired contract.
“What we agreed to (June 22) was to top it up, at Trail’s expense, to the previous allotment they were getting from Warfield,” Martin added.
The split the city used was 62 per cent to recreation and 38 per cent to the library, explained Perehudoff.
That means the library apportionment from Warfield’s contribution is reduced from $32,600 in 2014 to $29,760 this year.
“Council has agreed to increase funding by $2828 so there is no direct loss over what the board previously received,” said Perehudoff, adding the amount will increase by 26 per cent when the Warfield agreement expires in 2020.