I would like to thank the mayor and council for giving the citizens of Chatham-Kent the opportunity to provide input on potential tax savings and the budget process via the new ‘Have Your Say’ survey. It provided some interesting insights to the budget process at Chatham-Kent and I appreciated the level of detail provided.
That being said, your question about library changes in order to find cost savings is very concerning. You simply cannot compare branches per capita between a rural community like Chatham Kent and an urban community like London.
The fact you used London as an example actually seems to indicate you have already made a decision and are attempting to justify it. Frankly, it is shameful and dishonest. I challenge you to rewrite this survey and compare Chatham-Kent per capita branch coverage (and library circulation numbers) against other rural communities like Middlesex or Lambton. I’m sure you already did that comparison, and you saw that Chatham-Kent is the most efficient when comparing like-for-like library systems, which is why you chose to not share that information with the general public in your survey. It would undermine the decisions this council apparently has already made.
Now I recognize the importance of finding efficiencies, and quite frankly, a small community branch like Highgate is tempting to be looked at for cost savings. I would even support (or at least not actively oppose) such closures provided some system was put in place to service the elderly or those without transportation who live in that community.
I just wish Chatham-Kent council and the bureaucrats making these proposals would be honest with ratepayers instead of being deceptive. Whoever created that question about the library services knew full well what they were doing and clearly had an agenda.
So in closing, let me re-write that question for you:
“In Chatham-Kent we have 11 library branches with a population of 105,000 or a library for every 9,500 residents. Middlesex has 15 library branches for a 71,500 population or a library for every 5,000 residents. Would Chatham-Kent be better served by having longer hours and more services across its branch system in order to better service the community despite the increased cost or do you feel our current level of Library service is sufficient and a shining example of efficiency when compared against other rural Library systems?”