Effects of the Cost Sharing Agreement by the Numbers: Library Services

In 1983, the former Township of Ramsay voted not to increase the library grant it paid to both Almonte and Carleton Place. “In past years, the total amount has been divided up ‘two-thirds to Almonte, one-third to Carleton Place,'” according to John Souter, interviewed for the May 11, 1983 story by Susan Fisher of the Almonte Gazette. Ramsay paid $7,350 for both libraries at that time.

The amount of $7,350 is equal to $17,154.17 today, according to the Bank of Canada’s Inflation Calculator. So how did we get from $7,350 for both the Almonte and Carleton Place libraries to Mississippi Mills being asked for $61,775 for just the Carleton Place Library in 2021? What happened? The Cost Sharing Agreement in 1987 happened, also known as the “Howard Allan Agreement.” Howard Allan was/is an auditor for most of the local municipalities and also wrote the report on amalgamation promoting the cost savings that helped persuade Ramsay, Almonte and Pakenham to merge: “Almonte-Ramsay-Pakenham Best Option, Consultant”, Almonte Gazette January 15, 1997.

Under the current cost-sharing agreement, Mississippi Mills pays Carleton Place to allow Mississippi Mills and Beckwith residents to use their library at no cost. You can find my table of amounts paid since 2012 here.

Carleton Place recently shared with Mississippi Mills some of the user data for their public library:

2020 Carleton Place User Statistics

If we assume that the last two years were 2018 ($51,032.50) and 2019 ($57,554.50), then the total amount paid to Carleton Place for the 635 Mississippi Mills residents reported was $108,587.

The 2016 Census data for the two census dissemination areas around Carleton Place showed a population of 1,419. But let’s say that the population in 2020 has increased to 1,500. Dividing our recent payments for every person, adult or child, user or not, comes out to about $40. However, taking the 635 reported unique library users over two years works out to $90 if there were that many users in one year. If you take the two years of payments ($108,587) divided by the two years of users (635), we paid about $171 per user.

This is not what is charged CPPL users. This is what Mississippi Mills – all taxpayers – pay on their behalf, including those in Almonte and Pakenham. The calculation of the property assessments does not include any properties north of Wolf Grove or March Roads; but the payment of the calculation is on every ratepayers’ tax bill. Carleton Place’s decisions on expenditures also figure into the calculation. Ours do not.

So what does Carleton Place charge non-residents (residents of Ottawa, Carp, Perth, Ashton)? They have to pay more, right? And always have? Sorry, no:

Source: Carleton Place Public Library October 6 2020

A regrettable effect of this is that residents of both towns could use all libraries at no additional cost to any one community under a true reciprocal sharing agreement. We have one with Perth and Lanark. If you have a Mississippi Mills card, you can access their collections without paying a non-resident fee. You see, Carleton Place does charge a non-resident library fee of about $90 per user; users just don’t see us pay for it through everyone’s taxes.

There are a number of governance issues with funding a third library facility outside our own municipality when we already authorized a Board to run two facilities for residents; the Library Board will address this at the October 20 Council meeting. But what it means in real-life is that we have sent over $400,000 to Carleton Place for their library since 2012. Imagine if that money was used for our own facilities and staff. Maybe directing $60,000 to our own library reserves and expenses each year would pay off the $150,000 debt remaining on the Pakenham Library debt a bit quicker?

The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.

– Paula Poundstone

Thank you to the Mississippi Mills Public Library for allowing councillors, constituents and controversy to meet and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum for hosting the Almonte Gazette archives.

2019 Provincial Budget Notes

CREDIT: I have condensed these “highlights” from an information item sent to councillors by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Neither they or I can warrant that these items are complete or will transpire as stated. I have put some items of local interest in bold type.

Balancing the budget by 2023-24. To 2023-24, total revenue is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3%. Program expense over the same period is expected to grow at an average rate of 1%.

Deficits are projected as follows:
$11.7 billion in 2018-19, $10.3 billion in 2019-20, $6.8 billion in 2020-21, and $5.6 billion in 2021-22

Reform of social assistance is expected to save over $1 billion by “simplifying the rates, cutting administration and unnecessary rules, and more employment opportunities.”

No increase to the municipal share of the provincial gas tax program as was expected. “Currently it is $364 million to 107 municipal governments. The government will consult with municipalities to review the program parameters and identify opportunities for improvement.”

Municipalities will be allowed to designate public areas, such as parks for the consumption of alcohol. There are other alcohol reforms contained in the budget such as the creation of a tailgating permit for eligible sporting events and extending hours of service in licensed establishments to a 9 am start, seven days a week.

$3.8 billion for mental health, addictions and housing supports over 10 years, beginning with the creation of a mental health and addictions system.

In 2019–20, $174 million for community mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing and acute mental health inpatient beds.

(Jan’s Note: to put this into perspective, at their last meeting on April 10, 2019, Lanark County’s Social Services Committee received a report about either renovating or rebuilding Lanark Lodge, with the cost of either estimated at $73-$75 million).

A review of property assessment to:

  • “Enhance the accuracy and stability of property assessments;
  • Support a competitive business environment;
  • Provide relief to residents”; and
  • Changes to the composition of the Board of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to increase the representation of property taxpayers, diluting the proportion of current municipal government representatives, according to AMO.

Public health in 2019-20:

  • “adjusting provincial-municipal cost sharing of public health funding;”
  • By 2020-21, establish 10 regional public health entities and 10 new regional boards of health with one common governance model; saving $200 million annually by 2022.
  • Integrating Ontario’s 59 emergency health services operators (e.g. 52 EMS, Ornge) and 22 provincial dispatch communication centres.

Increasing the supply of housing through a “Housing Supply Action Plan;” details not provided, but to follow

Municipalities will be required to provide real-time reporting of sewage outflows and the government will update policies related to municipal wastewater and stormwater.

Create 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and upgrade 15,000 older long-term care beds to provide more appropriate care to patients with complex health conditions. In addition to the over 6,000 new beds previously allocated, 1,157 new long-term care beds will immediately be allocated to 16 projects across the province.

“Exploring revenue sharing, including Northern communities, in the mining, forestry, and aggregates sectors.”

The Ontario Provincial Police
“Encourage workforce optimization, including vacancy management, overtime and scheduling” to save $30 million annually starting in 2019-20 without impacting front-line policing and community safety.

$16.4 million over two years to create a province-wide strategy to help combat gun and gang related crime.

The government will invest $315 million over five years as part of its Broadband and Cellular Strategy which will be released later this year.

A new CARE (Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses) tax credit would provide about 300,000 families with up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses and allow families to access a broad range of child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps.

Individual seniors with annual incomes of $19,300 or less, or senior couples with combined annual incomes of less than $32,300, will be able to receive dental services in public health units, community health centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres across the province.

Reviewing the forestry sector to develop a strategy that includes: challenges the industry currently faces; initiatives to encourage innovation and reduce red tape; and methods to promote made-in-Ontario wood products.

Consultations on the repeal of the Far North Act, removing red tape on economic development projects like the Ring of Fire. Environmental assessment studies have been initiated for all-season access roads to the Ring of Fire.

Development of an immigration pilot initiative across Ontario. The budget also proposes changes to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program aimed at modernizing the program to better address labour market shortages.

Energy conservation and efficiency programs will be phased out, saving up to $442 million.

A return to the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident, after it was previously reduced to $1 million in 2016.