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May 20, 2024

Lismore mayor defends $80k library cuts

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Lismore Library will close early on Thursdays and Saturdays as the council looks to claw back five percent of its library spending. Photo Bruce H Kennewell
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Lismore mayor Isaac Smith (Labor) has hit back at the north coast Greens, who have attacked the council’s plans to cut nearly $80,000 a year in funding to the library service.

Greens north coast spokesperson, Dawn Walker, slammed the decision, which she said would result in ‘a significant reduction in local services for the community.’

‘Lismore Council, led by Labor mayor, Isaac Smith, has made the short-sighted decision to cut five per cent from their library budget that will result in reduced opening hours for Lismore City Library, the closure of Goonellabah Library on Wednesdays and the sacking of student book shelvers’ Ms Walker said.

Soft target

‘It’s disgraceful that the council has seen libraries as a soft target in their cost-cutting endeavours, rather valuing libraries as asset for the whole community, especially families with children, students and retirees.

‘Public libraries are a source of lifelong education and community-development. Lismore Council needs to go back to the drawing board and reverse these irrational cuts that will impact the local community’s access to their public libraries’ she said.

Politicising decisions

But mayor Smith told Echonetdaily he was ‘very disappointed’ in the comments and claimed the Greens were ‘politicising difficult council decisions in an attempt to divide our community.’

‘Councils should not operate on party lines, but simply act in the best interests of the whole community,’ he said

‘Council went through a service level review process where every area of council was asked to find per cent savings with no special treatment.

‘Councillors have looked at that advice and put a draft budget out on exhibition. The final budget, with any amendments, goes to the meeting on June 20,’ Cr Smith added.

Fit for the future

‘There is no doubt that these cuts will impact on library services, as they will on all areas of council, but we need to start living within our means.

‘As the former chair of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library, I love my library and do not see it as an easy decision or a ‘soft’ option.’

‘Lismore City Council is like every other regional council in NSW with more assets than we can maintain. So every dollar we save goes into improving our assets like roads and parks, which need urgent attention. This is the only way we can stay fit for the future.’

‘If the Greens were really concerned about library funding, they would target their anger at the state government who’s continual cost shifting means that NSW library receive the lowest funding in the country, putting more pressure on local councils.’

Protest May 26

A community gathering to oppose the cuts to local library services is planned for 11am on May 26 outside the Goonellabah Library.

Proposed cuts to library services passed at the May 8 Lismore Council Meeting include:

  • Staff leave replacement: 25 per cent cut = $15,000
  • Periodicals reduced: 25 per cent cut = $2,500
  • Remove blue phone: = $1,100
  • Thursday evening closure at Lismore Library at 5pm: = $14,300
  • Saturday closure at Lismore Library 12 noon: $11,200
  • Close Goonellabah Library on Wednesdays: $15,000
  • Resources budget decreased: $11,500
  • Junior shelver hours removed from staff structure: $9,300

 


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