Funding: Library vs Recreation

Whitchurch-Stouffville is a "library-town": our per capita participation rates in library programs and our per capita library visits far exceed the provincial averages

Whitchurch-Stouffville participates in municipal performance measurement and reporting initiatives to:
  • identify where we do well and where improvement is needed;
  • strengthen the Town's accountability and transparency
  • examine internal trends
  • compare results externally to other municipalities and provincial benchmarks.
These municipal performance measurement instruments indicate that Whitchurch-Stouffville does very well in many areas compared to other Ontario municipalities. While areas like recreation flourish, the performance reports also show chronic and serious funding neglect of our Library,
    Between 2009 and 2010, per capita funding for the Library dropped 8%, from $25.43 to $23.44. In the same budget year, per capita recreation programming and facilities increased by more than a third, from $127.06 to $170.33.

    Per person library funding has been on a steady decline between 2006 and 2010, from $29.39  in 2006 to $23.44 in 2010. In 2006, we were already 17% below the provincial average for towns our size. One of the three "key issues" identified by the Library's CEO that year was "to ensure adequate library funding" (2007 Final Budget, 143; library funding was cut 4% per capita 2007 over 2006). In 2010, we were 43% below the provincial average for per person municipal library expenditures (see stats below).

    Recreation programming and facilities, in contrast, has had champions on Town Council and has done very well. Between 2006 and 2010, Whitchurch-Stouffville expenditures for Recreation and programming and facilities have averaged 11% above the provincial per capita average (see stats below). 

    The spending priorities of Town Council over the past five years show a clear bias toward recreational programming and facilities. The staffing numbers (cf. 2011 Budget, p. 24f.; 2007, p. 15f.) confirm this spending bias:
    • 2003: Parks & Facility F/T Staff 9; Library 5 (+4 P/T)
    • 2007: Parks & Facility F/T Staff 14; Library 5 (+12 P/T).
    • 2011: Parks & Facility F/T Staff 23; Library 6 (+14 P/T).
    Looked at differently, Whitchurch-Stouffville's Leisure expenditures grew 285% from 2006 to 2011 (from $2,050,096 to $7,892,437) -- not inappropriate for 58% population growth. However during this same period of population growth, Library expenditures were tightly controlled, growing 54% from $675,350 in 2006 to $1,041,607 in 2011. 

    The Library has had few strong advocates on Town Council, and has withered accordingly. Curiously, Mayor Emmerson said during the 2010 municipal election (video) that he had proposed a plan for per capita funding for the library, but Council rejected this "in order to cut their budget." This proposal by the Mayor needs to come before Council again. In the same response, Mayor Emmerson said that they have put "a lot of infrastructure around a lot of facilities." This would be difficult to substantiate with respect to the Library. The Library Board's 2009 SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis noted clearly that there was a "disconnect/lack of shared vision between library board/staff and municipal council/staff" (p.15).

    Though the Library's portion of the Town budget did go up by $96,538 for 2011 (to accommodate the addition of the first new staff position in a decade), it must be remembered that 2500-3,000 new residents (and tax payers!) also arrived in town since the previous budget (967 residential building permits were issued in 2010, or about 3000 new people), which means that the small budget increase will not even be sufficient to bring our per capita Library contribution above $24.00 (less than half of the provincial average for towns our size).

    Note: The Whitchurch-Stouffville Library also receives a portion of its funding from the provincial government ($0.77 per resident, or 2.6% of its budget). Our local library is also disadvantaged at this level because of a dated funding formula. Advocacy during the upcoming provincial election will be important.

    Compare and Contrast: 
    Annual Decline of Library Funding 
    and Above Average Funding of Recreation 

    Declining and below average funding for Library

    Per Person Net Library Expenditures for Whitchurch-Stouffville and Comparison with Provincial Averages (Source: BMA Municipal Studies)
    * Between 2006 and 2010, the annual per person funding of the library has dropped 22% (while Stratford's, e.g., has increased over 20%). Between 2006 and 2009, we have fallen from $6 below the provincial average to $19 below. Even if the Town of W-S has some different accounting procedures than, e.g., Stratford (as the Town claims), the expenditure trends over five years are unambiguous. 

    Per Person Library Operating Costs in Whitchurch-Stouffville (Source: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville) 
    * The Town's own statistics indicate the same steady decline in per person funding of the library from 2006 to 2010 as in the BMA statistics. As far back as 2000, the library's operating costs were about $31.81 per person ($700,000 total with pop. of 22,000).

    Compare and Contrast: High and Above Average Funding for Recreation 

    Per Person Costs for Recreation Programming and Facilities in Whitchurch-Stouffville (Source: BMA Annual Municipal Studies)
    * From 2006-09, Whitchurch-Stouffville's expenditures for recreation programming and facilities were consistently above the provincial per capita average. During this same period, Library expenditures are well below the provincial average, and declined from 17% below to 43% below the provincial average. 

    Per Person Costs for Recreation Programming and Facilities in Whitchurch-Stouffville (Source: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville) 
    * These performance indicators show the same  trend: Recreation up $45.58 per person from 2006 to 2011, while the  library was dropped $3.46 per person. Note also the significant and increasing difference in the amount of tax dollars each of us gives annually for recreation programming and facilities, and the declining portion of your municipal tax dollars that go to the library. 

    If these statistics are a concern to you (the Mayor told us at the Town Council Meeting June 21, 2011 that it's simply an accounting difference!), and do not reflect your priorities, then sign our petition, and let the mayor and your councillor know. High school students in particular should let Council know if the library is sufficient for your research and meeting needs.

    (Click to download this page of statistics)

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