Stettler County approves Parkland budget

Libraries continue to be busy places according to Ron Sheppard, Director of Parkland Regional Library, who presented Stettler County Council with Parkland’s 2017 budget at the county’s regular meeting held Oct 12.
Stettler County approved Parkland’s 2017 budget of $3,241,510, which represents a two per cent increase over 2016.  With a requisition of $8.04 per capita, the county’s total comes to $41,028.
As a municipal service, Parkland also receives funding directly from the government of $4.70 per capita and each library receives $5.55 per capita.
Councillors Dave Grover and Ernie Gendre voted against approving the budget, which included a seven per cent wage increase for 2017.
The Parkland Region includes 64 member municipalities, 49 public libraries and 45 library boards. The entire region boasts 660,000 catalogued items and serves a total of 210,000 people. All libraries together circulated 1.2 million items last year.
In a follow up interview, Sheppard explained some of the services provided by Parkland and how those services are changing.
Physical services, like people visiting libraries in person to borrow a book, have not diminished but other services, like e-services, second language material or large print books, have expanded greatly.
Libraries, which operate as autonomous organizations, require services that are too expensive for individual libraries to afford says Sheppard. Parkland pools funding from its members and government grants in order to provide network platforms for things like interlibrary loans and cataloguing, as well as providing staff training, or, more recently, e-services.
Anyone with a library card in the Parkland Region has access to a number of digital platforms such as Hoopla, which offers downloads of movies, music and e-books, as well as Zinio which offers magazines, all at no cost to the card holder.
Currently, Parkland is working out details of how to allow people to either renew a library card or sign up for a new card online in hopes of increasing library membership, which stands at about 13 per cent of people of the region. But, as Sheppard explained, because some libraries charge a fee and some don’t, creating an effective system has been difficult.
“It’s kind of a nightmare but we’re working on it.”
According to Sheppard, two-thirds of the membership must approve the budget in order for it to pass. At the time of this interview, Sheppard felt the budget would pass despite seven members voting not to accept the budget.
Tax sale date set
Council voted to set a public tax sale date of Dec. 12 for two properties in tax arrears, one located at NE14-38-22 W4M and the other at Lot 10, Block 2 SE23-40-21 W4M . Total taxes owed on the two properties are $4,667.90. Council also set reserve bids amounts for both properties during a brief in camera session.
Nixon remains reeve
Wayne Nixon was elected as Reeve for another year during the organizational meeting held prior to the regular meeting.

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