State government cuts library funding

FUNDING CUTS: Ballarat Library. (File photo)
FUNDING CUTS: Ballarat Library. (File photo)

BALLARAT’S library service looks set to lose $26,000 in state government funding.But Ballarat City Council has been urged by the Municipal Association of Victoria not to sign the proposed funding deal.The government has recently cut its statewide library recurrent funding contributions, sparking anger from councils, the MAV and the Public Libraries Victoria Network.Ballarat City Council’s library services manager Janice Taylor said the cut-backs were “without warning or explanation”.In a report to council, Ms Taylor said it was assumed council’s public libraries grant payment would increase by at least the CPI of 2.7 per cent.She said the funding cut would impact on library programs across the region, including planned new technology.“As council budgets for the current financial year have been set, this reduction in recurrent funding will result in an inability to perform to budgeted expectations,” Ms Taylor said.“Whilst the reduction can potentially be absorbed in a one-off occurrence, this cost-shifting strategy has the potential to lead the way for future increases in council contributions to maintain quality library services.”Ms Taylor said there were also concerns the community would associate possible reduced services with the City of Ballarat’s withdrawal, and subsequent folding of, the Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation.“Library services in the region are already minimally resourced and this reduced library funding will further impact long term on the organisation as a regional leader of community services and its ability to build community culture.”The MAV has urged councils not to sign the funding agreements as it could mean the loss of at least $5.7 million in recurrent government funding over the next four years.Council will also consider writing to Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell and Premier Ted Baillieu asking for an immediate reversal of the funding cuts, plus an urgent review of the operational funding arrangements for Victoria’s public libraries.