The Marigold Library System, which services 300,000 people across Alberta, has increased its municipal levy rates for 2017 and 2018 to accommodate cost increases due to population growth and demand.
Michelle Toombs, chief executive officer for Marigold, said Schedule C, which outlines a two per cent levy rate increase, required the approval of 60 per cent of its municipalities that made up at least 60 per cent of its service population.
The passing of Schedule C, she said, showed an acknowledgement of Marigold’s services to its communities as well as the support each community shares for each other.
“The main focus of Marigold is to pool resources,” Toombs said. “All 36 libraries within our 44 municipalities are stronger because they support each other.”
The 2016 levy for municipalities with library boards – such as Beiseker, Chestermere, Cochrane, Crossfield and Irricana – was $5.81 per capita, she said.
The 2017 levy would see an increase to $5.94 and $6.06 in 2018, Toombs said, with costs to municipal library boards at $4.50 per capita.
Together the 2017 levy rate would equal $10.44, she said, while municipalities without library boards such as Rocky View County have a per capita levy rate of $9.81.
“We want to harmonize those,” Toombs said.
To stay transparent and accountable to its municipalities, she said an annual “Value for Your Investment” report is calculated.
For Irricana, based on a 2014 Municipal Affairs population report of 1,162 with a 2015 levy rate of $5.71, Toombs said the municipality paid $11,864.02 while receiving a service value of $67,755.88.
“There’s a big difference there,” she said.
That value is compiled through 13 different itemized sections from IT support, materials and digital content, professional consultation all the way to delivery services and supplies, Toombs said.
When the economy is tough, she said the use of libraries rises.
With many service contracts based on population size and digital resources such as Hoopla – a pay-per-use service for the library that allows people to access movies, comics, television shows, music, e-books and music from home – gaining popularity, she said costs are increasing.
“If population increases, our costs automatically go up too,” Toombs said.
Other costs include the purchasing of new material throughout the year, exchange rates and increasing Internet bandwidth.
During its Nov. 7 regular council meeting, Irricana Town council gave its support to the already passed Schedule C.
Irricana Mayor Dennis Tracz, who has sat on many committees during his time as the Town’s Marigold representative, thanked Toombs.
“Schedule C is not something that is easily accomplished because there are more people than me asking hard questions,” Tracz said. “Thank you for your guidance and patience executing it.”