There’ll be a 1.77 per cent tax increase for the coming year to cover the cost of operating the Okanagan Regional Library system.
Directors approved the 2014 budget Wednesday with a net increase of about $270,000 in a total budget of more than $16.9 million.
The overall increase will translate into 75 to 80 cents per capita on an average Kelowna homeowner’s tax bill, reported executive director Stephanie Hall.
The ORL is described by Hall as “about the size of Ireland,” and serves 25 jurisdictions from Hedley to Golden, with Kelowna the largest, paying about a third of the bill. The system is 91.3 per cent funded by local government.
Inflation and initiatives such as increased programming are the reasons for the increase, she said.
A report from Grant Thornton, an independent auditing firm, analyzing the system’s financial allocations to each of the communities it serves, and service expenditures in each confirms that the system is efficient and fair.
It also showed that some adjustments are needed, noted Hall, for instance in West Kelowna now that the Westbank First Nation is part of the system. Something specific will need to be provided to serve that additional population fairly, she said.
The board requested that a simple version of the report be provided annually by the finance manager to guide the board’s decision-making.
Hall also reported to the board on a new initiative kicking off next month at many branches, called TakeOut Surprise.
Patrons who come in to the branch can pick up a bag of books that staff has put together on a theme and be ‘surprised’ with the choices when they get home.
Funds from the Friends of the Library went towards that program.