Another communication breakdown 

Budget discrepancy shows disconnect between Whistler council and library board


Library patrons will find the lights off and the doors locked if they saunter up this Sunday, and every Sunday from now on until the library board can cover their shortfall. If they can cover their shortfall, and right now there's no guarantee that they can.

The library board says they need $54,000 to maintain current operation levels, but budget staff at the RMOW said that the number is actually $26,629.

Lisa Landry, general manager of economic viability, said she doesn't understand where the library is getting their numbers.

The library board has claimed the remaining $28,000 stems from higher-than-expected energy costs.

Whistler council passed a resolution at their Dec. 21 meeting for municipal staff and the library board to sit down together, hammer out exactly what the shortfall is and knock around some ideas for ways to cover it and keep the library open on Sundays.

But according to those who will be involved in it, this discussion should have taken place months ago.

"There's a lack of communication between the library board and council, for sure. I talk to the municipality, to my general manager, about this all the time. The staff at the hall has known about this since October," said Lauren Stara, library director.

Stara said she "can't answer" why this disconnect exists.

Neither can Councillor Chris Quinlan, who raised the motion for staff to sit down with the library board.

"There is a lack of communication," he said. "There also seems to be a lack of the ability of the present board of the library and the director of the library to engage the municipality in discussions beyond just covering their shortfall. This is not how good public decisions get made or how good public services get delivered."

The library board has said they have cut spending down to the bone and only the municipality can save them. Council is saying there needs to be some creative decision making on the part of the library board, with the help of municipal staff, in order to cover the shortfall.

Budget staff took all department budgets from 2010 and added four per cent for the upcoming staff wage increases. Landry said the increases are generally around three per cent, so if they apply that percentage to the four percent increase to the budget "you could say the step increases would be less than $26,000."

"I'm not really achieving the $54,000," she said.

So what will come of this meeting between municipal staff and the library board?

"Nothing," said Councillor Ralph Forsyth, who is the council representative on the library board.

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