The 2006 annual fee of $1,509 breaks down as
membership fee increase of $55, to $1,015 from $960
law library levy increase of $13 to $219 from $206
fund unchanged at $200
and technology levy unchanged at $75
The 2006 draft budget was presented to
Convocation on Oct. 20 with little debate — except over the funding of
LibraryCo. In the draft, LibraryCo's levy was to remain at $206 and the finance
committee recommended that it use more than $400,000 of its projected $970,000 reserve to make up the
"LibraryCo decided that it will present a budget
that did not involve using its — I use the word reserve or surplus — to reduce
the amount of fees our members will be charged for LibraryCo in the levy," said
Clayton Ruby, chairman of the finance committee. "That's the decision they
made. It's not the last word on the subject.
"We are responsible for deciding what the levy
is for LibraryCo. We did not tinker with the substance of what they proposed. All we've said for this
year is we would like to see either a change in your operation, your choice, or
utilization of your reserve of about $1 million to lower the amount of money we
have to charge our members this year. The question is, does that money do any
good sitting in LibraryCo, that $1 million, or is it better utilized reducing
the fee for our members?"
By a close vote of 22-18, Convocation disagreed
with Ruby's assessment and voted to leave the reserve alone, increasing the
LibraryCo levy by $13 per member to meet LibraryCo's 2006 budget.
"LibraryCo has recognized from the outset, as
has the County and District Law Presidents' Association and has the law
society, I believe, that we've been living in a bit of a dream world, and we've
been talking about the amount slightly in excess of $200 that each year has
been allocated for the purpose of funding libraries through member levies
because those levies of slightly in excess of $200 a year simply do not cover
the expenses of providing services across the province to members," said
Bencher Gavin MacKenzie, chairman of LibraryCo.
He said if LibraryCo kept using the reserve for
operating expenses, it would be exhausted by approximately 2007, at which time
it would be faced either with the need for a dramatic fee increase or a
dramatic cutback in services.
Bencher Judith Potter said part of the problem
is that some benchers aren't familiar with LibraryCo and how it services many
lawyers in the province outside the Greater Toronto Area.
"I see eye glazing around the table, and when
we talk about numbers and figures, it's not of major interest, although it is
of major importance to a lot of the people in this room," she said.
Hamilton's Gerald Swaye,
who is on both the finance committee and LibraryCo board, said he was in a
difficult and unenviable position.
"Respectfully I would think, to me it's very,
very obvious that the profession wants to pay an increase, and that increase
goes to LibraryCo, so we can have that desktop delivery. We can have our books.
We can have our libraries because that's competence," he said.
"And as regulators, we should be saying this is
wonderful because we want to make sure that our lawyers have got the cutting
edge in the library system because without our books, without our computers,
without all of the stuff that LibraryCo is doing, we may as well fold our tents
because things are happening out there, folks. It's just not dollars and
Bencher Larry Banack said maintaining the levy
and asking LibraryCo to dip into its reserve would not affect library service.
LibraryCo runs 48 county and district law
libraries across the province: five large regional law libraries, 16 area
medium-sized libraries, and 27 small local libraries.
Most libraries are staffed on a part-time basis
and 16 are staffed on a full-time basis. The staff report to the local county