The Medicine Hat Public Library has approached the city with its funding request for 2024.
The library has asked the city for $2.6 million in funding for next year, an increase of $372,957, or 17%, over 2023 funding. It is a major increase and a bold request. Here’s why the library needs that additional funding.
First, our funding is down from where it was in the past. Our 2024 ask is only 12% higher than what we received in 2018, and it is actually below 2018 when adjusted for inflation. Funding cuts in 2019-20 didn’t hurt too much during COVID, but now we’re welcoming more patrons and visitors through our doors than during the pandemic. Our use is back up and we need to staff desks and deliver services.
Many of our costs have increased. The amount we pay for wages, utilities, maintenance and other things has gone up and we can’t control that. Known inflationary increases account for 43% of our increase.
Security in our facility is a top priority and we did a major study this year to determine how to keep our spaces safe. We need security guards or equivalent staff in our building. That accounts for 21% of the increase.
Finally, we have some high priority additions we would like to make. We want to bolster our popular Social Work program that has helped Hatters of all backgrounds. The program is funded by Medicine Hat Community Housing Society, but we would like to add a few extra hours and protect the program from any future funding cuts. We would also like to increase hours for our Youth Advocate who is working with teens during a mental health crisis. We need previously cut funding for call-in staff restored to cover sickness and vacation absences. These additions account for 30% of the increase.
We know that money for funding increases doesn’t grow on trees. We also know the city has many competing needs and requests for support. We wouldn’t ask for this increase if we didn’t need it. It is worth noting that the city provides great support to us already in the form of existing funding and also assistance with our building, our grounds and more. We hope that the city is able to help us this little bit more.
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