Mayor Responds to Korah Library Closure

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In a report attached to this upcoming Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Christian Provenzano addresses the Board Chair and Acting CEO of the Library Board in regards to the library budget and closure of the Korah branch.

Provenzano acknowledged that the board did not receive the operating increase that it requested, but “that should not diminish the fact that it did receive an operating increase,” as they did receive an increase of 8.41 per cent, not a funding cut. He also stated that the Library Board received “one of the most significant increases authorized throughout the entire budget process.”

“Many of our own internal city budgets were not increased or increased only marginally and many of the City’s capital projects went unfunded and will not be completed this year,” his report says.

Provenzano said that, in 2016, the City advised that it wanted the Library Board to maintain a presence at the Northern Community Centre and “that sentiment remains.”

“If the Library Boards can manage, within the budget allocated to it for 2019, to maintain a presence at the Northern Community Centre, it is certainly welcome to do so and the City would be glad to continue the partnership,” he said.


The following is a full text of the Mayor’s letter:

Dear Board Chair Belair and Acting CEO MacDonald:

I am writing further to City Council’s recent budget deliberations and the discussions, both public and private, that have occurred since regarding the 2019 Sault Ste. Marie Library Board Budget (hereafter ‘Library Board’).

As you are aware, the 2018 library budget contained a municipal grant of $2,532,209.For the 2019 budget, the Library Boardhad two requests: a $200,000 one-time capital request from the Centennial Branch building reserve fund to support the new Northern Branch and an overall municipal grant increase to $2,959,910. City Council approved the one-time capital request and an overall municipal grant increase from $2,532,209to $2,745,080. The Library Board, therefore, received an operating budget increase of $212,871(8.41%)for its 2019 operating budget.

In this context, I do not believe it is accurate to suggest that the Library Board’s budget has been cut. I certainly agree that the Library Board did not receive the operating increase that it requested, but that should not diminish the fact that it did receive an operating increase. Further, the Library Board received one of the most significant increases authorized throughout the entire budget process. Many of our own internal city budgets were not increased or increased only marginally and many of the City’s capital projects went unfunded and will not be completed this year.

Considering the content of the motion that governed the matter, I understand why the Library Board may believe or take the position that it has received a direction from City Council to close the branch located in the Northern Community Centre. To be clear, the motion and subsequent funding allocation was not a direction to close the Northern Community Centre branch. While I accept and acknowledge that the City Council decision may affect the Library Board’s ability to operate at that location, the budget decision should not be taken as a direction not to operate at that location. To the contrary, the City advised in 2016that it wanted the Library Board to maintain a presence at the Northern Community Centre and that sentiment remains.

If the Library Boards can manage, within the budget allocated to it for 2019, to maintain a presence at the Northern Community Centre, it is certainly welcome to do so and the City would be glad to continue the partnership.

In closing, based on my discussions with the previous Board Chair and Mr. MacDonald, I believe that the City and its finance department has been very helpful and supportive over the last year as the Library Board organized and managed its finances. I want to assure you we will be as steadfast and committed in our partnership on a going forward basis.Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter further. I will be happy to make myself available.

Sincerely,Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B., LL.Mcc City Council

18 COMMENTS

  1. From the Mayor’s letter:

    “The Library Board, therefore, received an operating budget increase of $212,871 (8.41%) for its 2019 operating budget.”

    Yes Mr. Mayor, but the Library Board is opening a brand new library that is 3 times the size of the east end library with a fully staffed, temperature controlled, and catalogued Archive for the community to use.

    Do you really think the $212,871 dollars a year is enough to service all that and pay for a library “presence” in the west end Mr. Mayor? Never mind providing service and programming for the freed up space at the downtown library.

    What kind of west end library “presence” we’re you thinking of Mr. Mayor?

    An unstaffed broom closet?

    • P.S. The east end Library cost $280,000 dollars a year to operate in 2016, and you’re calling this $212,000 dollar Library Board request a “budget increase” Mr. Mayor?

  2. I find it disheartening to find ALL our city monies being used to either build or repair to only find the structure to close. I really think it’s time for those in city hall to start thinking more and stop randomly taking away essential things that help restore education or life skills as we know it. Closure are not always necessarily the solution to a problem until you exhaust ALL phesable solutions. They don’t think 🤔 very well!!!

    • From what I understand is that it was closing a few years back when the closed the Steelton Seniors Centre and put them in a small portion of the library. It will be very interesting to see if they decide to give the whole area to the seniors.

  3. How could the City’s internal budgets not increase when the residential tax rate went up 3.54%? Even if inflation is the same as last year, that’s still 1.5% above inflation. The total levy goes up by $3.9 million. The Library got $200k of that. That leaves $3.7 million of increased tax revenue that didn’t go to any internal city budget according to the mayor’s statement.

  4. As far as I am concerned, the Board Chair and the CEO of the library made the decision to close the library on their own and yet, through the media, it has been said that the City had made that choice. I think that the Board Chair and CEO should reconsider the closure of this library. It seems to me that a lot of resources will have been wasted if you close it down. You were given a great deal of money for the purpose of establishing a library within the Centre and to close it down so quickly, makes me ask the question of why would you not do everything within your power to keep the library open? I think at the very least, a vote from the citizens should have been taken. Something is very wrong here.

    • The library board used to operate 3 libraries.

      1) A very expensive east end library,
      2) A downtown library, and
      3) A west end library.

      City council closed the east end library in 2017, but the money to operate that east end library went to the city. That east end library money did not go to the library board.

      So now that there are going to be 3 libraries again the library board asked city council for the east end library money back at the most recent city budget deliberations.

      City council called this a budget increase.

      Hello? if you’re going to operate 3 libraries again you’re going to need the east end library money back again city council. This is not a budget increase. It’s a reinstatement of east end library money that our cash strapped city used to make ends meet without raising taxes too much over the past two years.

      The east end library money was $280,000 dollars a year, and that’s approximately what the library board asked to have back at this year’s city budget meeting in order to run the new Northern Avenue library (which is triple the size of the old east end library) together with the downtown library, and the west end library .

      This is not a budget increase.

      It’s an inevitable return of the east end library money in order to run 3 libraries again.

      So, if you cut the west end library’s operating funds you’ve only got money enough for 2 libraries Ms. Bielhartz.

      Library costs are mostly librarians, and library staff.

      Without operational money you have no librarians and no library staff.

      All you’ve got is an empty room with computers, books, bookshelves, tables, chairs and comfy chairs where nobody is providing programming, and nobody is restocking the shelves, and nobody is checking out any books, and nobody is there to ensure the peaceful nature of the space, nor are they there to ensure the equipment is treated with respect.

      So that is what’s left after city council took away the Korah Branch’s operational funding at this year’s budget deliberations.

      Of course the library board is asking city council to give them permission to vacate the un-staffed space.

      City council took all of the library people out of the west end library, and stole the library boards east end library funds. Do you seriously think they can run 3 libraries on money for 2 libraries? Of course they can’t. They’re extremely devoted educational, social, and business professionals, but even they can’t make up for this bad city council decision to empty the west end library of its library staff.

      And that’s the accurate history of the matter Ms. Beilhartz.

      City Council closed the west end library.

      Hate them for it, but there were 3 who voted to keep it open: downtown Ward 2 councilors DuFour and Vezeau-Allen, and west end Ward 5 councilor Matthew Scott.

      The ones you want to hate who voted to close it down are:
      west end Ward 5 councilor Corey Gardi
      west end Ward 4 councilor Bruno
      west end Ward 4 councilor Niro
      central Ward 3 councilor Shoemaker (it was his idea)
      central Ward 3 councilor Hilsinger
      east end Ward 1 councilor Hollingsworth
      east end Ward 1 councilor Christian

      Mayor Provnezano didn’t raise his hand to vote, nor did he say a word on the matter during this year’s budget deliberations, which is to say that Mayor Provenzano didn’t do one thing to fight for the west end library.

      Strange, the Mayor usually has so much to say on things he really cares about.

    • It’s not a facelift. The building needed major repairs. Unless YOU like to work in an office where, for example, the windows are drafty and leaking. Buildings need maintenance and repair. The larger the building, the more expense that is needed to do this.

      These repairs are way overdue and were needed.

      Or, I guess there’s the more expensive solution. Tear it down and build a new one, cause it’s just an old building!

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