by Shaun McLaughlin

Council will discuss and probably pass the Mississippi Mills 2013 budget at its meeting on January 22. The 19 people who attended the public meeting January 8 expressed displeasure at the size of the tax increase.

 It makes no sense to me to hold a public meeting on the budget, and then ignore all suggestions from the public. So, I will present one cost-cutting motion on January 22 related to the funds we give to Carleton Place (CP) each year so that our residents can use its library.

According to Peter Nelson, our head librarian, our library collects about $1000 annually for non-resident memberships: 210 from CP patrons and 61 from Beckwith patrons. That averages $3.69 per user. In return, the 2013 budget aims to pay the CP library $43,800. That library has 658 active members from Mississippi Mills, which works out to $66.56 each—18 times more per person.

Note: There are also 665 users from other towns. I do not yet know what fees they pay. I am looking into it.

To be fair to our taxpayers, we must insist on reciprocity. The residents of each municipality must be “worth the same.” My motion calls to end the subsidy to CP as the first step towards negotiating an equitable arrangement. What we should aim for is shared and free access to all local libraries.

I had also prepared a motion to cut the cost-of-living (COL) adjustment given to our non-union staff on top of their step-up raises, but withdrew it. Since our unionized staff get a COL that we are contractually bound to, it makes more sense to address the COL issue for all staff in 2014 when the union contract comes up for renewal.