Mulmur Twp. withdrawing from Shelburne Public Library Board

October 7, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Shelburne Public Library has been serving the residents of Shelburne and four surrounding townships for more than a century. But on September 7, Mulmur Township Council passed a motion to withdraw its membership from the Shelburne Public Library (SPL) board beginning in January of 2017.

The council’s Motion #146-16 reads: ““Mulmur Township Council is supportive of the Shelburne Public Library and encourages Mulmur ratepayers to continue to patronize the library; however, Mulmur Township Council respectively withdraws its membership on the Shelburne Public Library Board beginning January, 2017 and will go forward with a non-resident fee to be charged to the Township on a quarterly basis, with the provision of receipt of user names and addresses.”

Mulmur Clerk and CAO Terry Horner told the Citizen, “Mulmur Council has made several requests over the years to the Shelburne Public Library (SPL) Board to verify user names for Mulmur residents to ensure the Township is being billed accurately. We receive this information on an annual basis from the other area libraries that we have agreements with and are not on the board – New Tecumseth and Clearview.”

He said Mulmur’s yearly funding costs to these libraries were significantly lower than what they pay to SPL.

“All requests to the SPL Board have been refused and Council had no choice but to remove itself from the Board and to act a pay for service user to remain accountable and transparent to its ratepayers. Further, the SPL Board changed the funding formula, which makes it inequitable to our ratepayers compared to the other libraries which our ratepayers patronize.”

However, in a prepared statement, Library Board Chair and Deputy Mayor Geoff Dunlop and Shelburne’s CEO, Rose Dotten, said Mulmur Township had been informed, and that due to privacy issues, the Library could not release the names of Mulmur users at the time of the Township’s  request:

“In January 2016, Mulmur expressed concern about the funding formula (a long-standing fire catchment area formula) and requested the names of all Mulmur users in order to verify the number (which was 298 households) as per the formula,” said the Board Chair. “At this point, SPL did not have a waiver system in place to allow us to release their names. The other two libraries which Mulmur contracts for services do have such a system in place. Therefore, they were able to provide the names to Mulmur. It should also be noted that Mulmur does not have a representative on the Boards of the other two libraries, nor do they have access or input into their budgets. At an annual contribution of $24,000, (paid to fund SPL) they felt they had been overpaying the past three years.”

“The Shelburne Public Library Board is deeply disappointed at the withdrawal of Mulmur Township from its library partnership and the Shelburne Public Library Board,” they said. “This means that Mulmur residents will no longer have a representative on the Board and that Mulmur has opted to pay for Mulmur patrons on a non-resident basis of $100.00 per user household.”

Mr. Dunlop said that earlier this year, in light of population growth in some of the funding municipalities, the SPL Board agreed to review the fee formula to see if they might “better reflect the number of users.” A June meeting of the Mayors, CAOs and Council representatives representing all municipalities, “instigated by Mulmur Township,” convened at Shelburne  Library, to go over budget figures from the last three years and forecast future funding.

“The basis for the new funding formula was the average number of active library household patrons over three years according to the library computer circulation system,” he said. “Findings from 2013 to the present showed that Mulmur Township had actually 537 households as active users (rather than 298 by the old formula.)  The data for other townships had changed as well according to the data generated by the circulation system… either more, same, or less.”

With no objections to the new formula at the June meeting, a motion was passed at the next scheduled SPL Board meeting to adopt the new formula. According to Mr. Dunlop, at this point, “Mulmur again requested the names of all cardholders” and a meeting was held with Mulmur Mayor Paul Mills and CAO Horner on August 15th “in the interest of collaboration, and to resolve this issue.”

In an attempt “to address Mulmur Township’s expressed concerns” the board chair and CEO presented the Mulmur Mayor and CAO  with a new SPL registration form with a waiver and agreed to update all Mulmur cardholders as they came in or their memberships expired.

“The next communication that SPL Board received was the motion passed at the September 7th  Mulmur Council meeting stating that they were withdrawing from the SPL Board as of January 2017 and that the funding would now occur through the payment of the non-resident fee of $100.00 per household.”

Currently, Ms. Dotten said, “all patrons of the library are being asked to sign a waiver to release their names for funding purposes. If all current Mulmur users and new patrons sign the waiver to release their names to the Township, the new cost would be upwards of $50,000 rather than the approximately $33,000 which would have been allocated through the new formula.” The CEO told the  Citizen she was still hoping that the issue would be resolved with Mulmur.

Mayor Horner said Mulmur Council “requested that the library invoice the Township quarterly for Mulmur users who register with the SPL so there would be no impact to our ratepayers.” He says the SPL Board passed a motion to charge each Mulmur household a $100 user fee when they register at the library, and the residents would have to come to the Municipality for reimbursement. “Council did not want to inconvenience any of our ratepayers,” says Mr. Horner, “nor cause any undue hardship by paying ‘up front’ for the SPL.”

Wishing to address this concern, Ms. Dotten said the SPL Board unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday which “ensures that the funding to cover the user fee will come directly from the Township of Mulmur. Only individual household users who do not wish to disclose their names to Mulmur will have to pay the $100 directly to the library.

The CEO says Shelburne Public Library will invoice Mulmur on a quarterly basis based on the new formula passed by SPL resolution in June. A list of household users as of September 30, 2017, will be presented to Mulmur in the last quarter of 2017.

“The Shelburne Public Library is committed to providing Mulmur users with all the library privileges, access to services, and resources as always,” Ms. Dotten said. “We truly value Mulmur patrons and wish to continue to enjoy our relationship.”

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