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Library budget for 2014 rising to $3.26 million

2% hike could have been larger if not for new formula
Delta will pay an additional $72,239 to the Fraser Valley Regional Library to run its three branches next year.

Delta council approved a two per cent increase to the municipality's library budget for 2014 last week. Last Monday night, civic politicians approved paying an additional $72,239 to the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL), an increase of 2.26 per cent over 2013. It brings Delta's total for 2014 to $3.26 million.

The FVRL establishes an annual budget for the provision of services across 15 municipalities in the region. A funding formula is used to determine how much each municipality pays for library services.

Delta comes in at the higher end of the spectrum with only Langley Township ($3.74 million) and Abbotsford ($3.67 million) paying more.

The increase to next year's budget could have been larger without the implementation of a new funding formula, which Delta agreed to earlier this year.

In July, civic politicians endorsed the revised formula, which has resulted in a net decrease of 1.5 per cent on Delta's library budget. It works out to approximately $48,000, in savings that will be phased in over the next couple of years and allocated to enhancing Delta's library services.

The formula, called a true usage formula, was established more than 15 years ago. It has gone through several minor revisions over the years, but there were concerns regarding the process, transparency and financial equity. That was evident the last couple of years when Delta council begrudgingly approved increases to its share of the library system.

In a report to council last week, Sean McGill, director of human resources and corporate planning, said the revised formula is "more transparent and equitable, and better reflects actual library usage."

The modified formula is being phased in over two years, so the 2014 assessment is based equally on both the new and old formulas.

In a recent customer survey, Delta's three libraries ended up near the bottom of the pack in terms of usage. Six per cent of respondents said they usually visit the Ladner Pioneer library, while 4.6 per cent said they frequent the Tsawwassen branch the most. The George Mackie Library in North Delta came in just ahead of Ladner at 6.1 per cent.

The most popular library was Clearbrook in Abbotsford, which came in at 11.5 per cent. Only the City of Langley and Walnut Grove libraries came in behind Tsawwassen at 4.5 per cent each.

The survey of customers and non-users garnered 1,612 responses.