Barrie Public Library budget includes a proposed third branch in Holly

Annual operating costs for a third branch are nearly $724,000

The Barrie Public Library (BPL) wants to begin a new chapter in the Holly community and has asked city council to get behind the project.

It’s not as if council didn’t see this train coming.

There has been a push for a branch in Holly going back 10 years and BPL Chief Executive Officer Lauren Jessop told council during a presentation in November that there would be an ask in the 2021 library budget.

The BPL is seeking $8.5 million in municipal funding this year, an increase of nearly $162,000 from 2020, or 1.95 per cent more.

Of the total $9.7 million library budget for 2021, $1.2 million will be offset by various revenue sources.

The proposed Holly branch would be in a 4,500 square foot leased space in a plaza in the area of Essa Road and Mapleton Avenue. Library Board Chair Austin Mitchell told council during a budget presentation this week that the proposed branch could open this summer.

Annual operating costs for a third branch are $723,877, including more than $221,000 for salaries and benefits. Mitchell said this is a 15 per cent reduction in operating costs. He reminded councillors that after the November presentation, the library board was asked to carefully examine the proposed Holly library operating costs and to look for areas where further efficiencies could be found.

“We have found efficiencies in our workflows, modernized our policies, removed barriers to access and streamlined our staffing model,” explained Mitchell.

He said the one-time capital cost of $1.18 million can be funded from various sources including development charges, municipal and/or library reserves or library fundraised dollars.

“Development charges can also be used to fund the annual lease cost this year and going forward,” said Mitchell.

He explained that capital costs are for items such as shelving, collections and furniture.

“For years library staff have found creative ways to bring the library to Holly,” said Mitchell. “But story time in the park is maybe not enough. This year especially we’ve shown how creative and flexible we can be. Think of what more we could do for this area if we had a dedicated community space.”

Mitchell said a library in Holly strongly supports council’s goal to build stronger neighbourhoods.

The Barrie Public Library has a main branch downtown, while the smaller Painswick branch is in the area of Big Bay Point Road and Yonge Street.

In 2020 the library added 5,500 new members, offered 1,341 programs attended by 24,703 people, more than 461,000 physical items were borrowed, and over 276,000 e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines were borrowed.

The City of Barrie’s 2021 budget will be debated on Jan. 18 and finalized on Jan. 25. Homeowners are currently facing a 3.59 per cent tax increase this year, or $160 more on an average home assessed at $367,550. The tax increase is by no means written in stone and budget deliberations could send the final figure up or down.