‘FUNDING COMPLETELY UNCHANGED’
The article ‘Cuts will impact services’ published on Wednesday, July 4 contains a number of misleading statements.
Claims that funding in the NSW Budget 2018-19 for public libraries has been cut by 18 per cent or $5.275 million are incorrect.
The NSW Government is committed to supporting public libraries across the state.
The $15 million Public Infrastructure Grants program was a four year commitment, which ended this year.
Under a Nationals and Liberal Government, Cootamundra and Gundagai have received in excess of $130,000 in capital grants to upgrade technology and build new spaces at their local libraries.
Contrary to the quotes from Cr McAlister and Mr Tout, funding for infrastructure programs at public libraries will continue through the Regional Cultural Fund (RCF).
This is in addition to the $23.5 million in public library subsidies provided through the State Library of NSW, which remains completely unchanged.
This subsidy is guaranteed under the Library Act (1939). Public libraries in regional NSW can now apply for capital grants to build new, or improve existing infrastructure with a dedicated $5 million set aside within the RCF – an increase of over $1 million from the old Public Library Infrastructure Grant program.
These funding programs will be open to all public libraries and their competitive nature will ensure that projects with the best outcomes for the people of NSW – when considering the project objectives, contributions from other partners and value for money – will be prioritised for funding.
Steph Cooke, Member for Cootamundra
‘FUNDING AT LOWEST LEVEL EVER’
Dear Steph, thank you for your response to the article in the Cootamundra Herald on Wednesday, July 4 in regards to the budget cuts to NSW Public Libraries in the 2018/19 budget.
I am very pleased that you are interested and passionate about the 360 plus libraries across the state and are contributing to what I hope will be a robust debate across all communities in NSW leading up to the state election in March 2019.
Having said that, it would be remiss of me if I did not respond to correct some factual inaccuracies in your response and also provide you with more current details in regard to this extremely important issue.
Funding for NSW public libraries across the state is not continuing as it has in the previous quadrennial funding package
An amount of $5 million has been identified in the Regional Cultural Fund for infrastructure spending just for public libraries. There are a number of issues with this;
- You state in your response that the funding will be “open to all public libraries”. Sadly this is incorrect, the funding will only be open for regional libraries and the infrastructure funding available to metropolitan libraries is now $0.00.
- In addition this is a one off fund that will only provide funding for one year. The previous infrastructure funding package for all public libraries in NSW was $4m per year over a four year cycle. Therefore $16m in total over four years.
- The last point and one I am still waiting for confirmation on, is that I have seen nothing to contradict the fact that there is no new money being added to the Regional Cultural Fund. Therefore, if the $5 million is not new money, has this funding been created by now reducing the total funds in Round 2 available to other possible recipients other than libraries?
Perhaps the biggest inaccuracy in your response is in regard to your comment about the subsidies amount that libraries receive for their recurrent yearly operating funds:
- You state that “public library subsidies provided through the State Library of NSW, which remain completely unchanged”. This is completely incorrect. If you look at the budget documents you will see that the amount of subsidies provided by the government have in fact been reduced by 5.18 per cent from the 2017/2018 allocation. If it was unchanged as you say then the figure should be $24.3m and not $23.5m as it is.
- You may also wish to review the Library Act (1939) that you refer to. An amount of subsidy being $1.85 is part of the library funding but for a number of years there has also been additional funding which is distributed using the ABS SEIFA index. This method ensures that the funding is distributed not just on population growth or contraction but other indicators of need or disadvantage. There appears to be a misunderstanding of this reflected in your comments.
There are many other factors in regard to the situation NSW public libraries are in at this point but suffice to say that the current funding has now placed the NSW contribution even lower than it was before. It is already the lowest contributing state government in the country and the 5.18 per cent reduction in recurrent subsidies has now dropped it under seven per cent of the total cost with local government picking up the balance.
I offer you an open invitation to meet face to face to further discuss this issue with you at any time convenient to you. I look forward to the opportunity to raise awareness and put public libraries in the spotlight where they belong and am more than happy to catch up with you at any public library across the state. I also urge members of the community to contact me to discuss this issue or raise their concerns with you.