Austerity, shmausterity: Toronto Public Library asks for a $5.51-million increase

Austerity, shmausterity: Toronto Public Library asks for a $5.51-million increase

With less than a week before Rob Ford is sworn in, the new powers that be must be looking for major savings in the city budget that can help make all of the mayor-elect’s promises come true: cutting a bunch of taxes, building streetcars, cancelling lunch and adding more police. So it will be interesting to see how the mayor-elect and new council deal with budget requests like a new one from the Toronto Public Library. The bookworms want $5.51 million more than they got last year.

According to the Globe and Mail, things are going to start getting real:

The Toronto Public Library Board adopted a 2010 budget request this week that seeks a 3.3-per-cent or $5.51-million increase over last year – a far cry from the spending reductions the mayor-elect promised during his campaign.

But the alternative, according to library staff, would be to buy fewer books, shutter some libraries on Sundays and impose shorter opening hours across the system…

The entire 3.3-per-cent increase is made up of inflation and contractual salary and benefit increases that are beyond the board’s control, according to a staff report that went to the board.

We look forward to this fiscal fight and what it might tell us for the future of budgeting and negotiating in Toronto. What will happen when council comes up against such immovable objects as collective bargaining agreements with the city unions? People in this city might hate TTC workers, but they seem to be genuinely fond of librarians.

Also, be careful about picking fights with the librarians. The last big politician who did that was George W. Bush, and look what happened to him.

• Library rejects Ford’s fiscal austerity [Globe and Mail]