The agreement that allows all Waikato district residents to access Hamilton City Libraries for free will come to an end on 30 September.
One of the reasons for ending this contract is that it only benefits a small percentage of our residents, says Waikato District Council Chief Executive Gavin Ion.
“Approximately 3530 residents have actively used Hamilton City Libraries in the last 12 months. We are unsure of the extent of that use but it’s likely to vary between one-off customers and frequent users. Those people are from 2390 separate households.”
“We need to be responsible with ratepayer money and we believe it’s important to get the best bang for your buck.
“In the next 12 months we will be working with our communities to find out what services they want and require and work hard to deliver this within the budgets available. We’re also exploring options to collaborate with all other councils in the Waikato region (including Hamilton City). We see potential for benefits to not only our residents and ratepayers, but for all who participate.”
Residents that live close to Hamilton are the most affected by this decision, Mr Ion says.
“We know it is frustrating for residents that don’t live near our libraries because they don’t have the same opportunities as others. We also know that they are more likely to use libraries run by other councils.
“As a result, those that are active Hamilton City Library users in near-by areas will receive one 12-month library membership per household.
“In order to enhance library services in our district and not have to increase rates by more, we need to ‘cap’ the amount that is spent. We have identified that this is the fairest way to do this.”
These people were contacted at the beginning of August. Others are welcome to renew their membership at a cost of $80.
Access to libraries in Waipa, Matamata-Piako and Hauraki district will remain free for Waikato District Council residents and ratepayers.
“We know that Morrinsville, Cambridge and the new Te Awamutu library offer substantial alternatives for people, particularly those in Tamahere, Matangi and Eureka and we encourage our residents to use them.”
Public consultation in October 2017:
In October 2017 Waikato District Council began the process of reviewing its library contracts with Hamilton City Council and with Waipa District Council. At this time the public was asked to provide feedback. More than 5000 submissions were received.
• 47.4% wanted status quo – for Council to continue negotiating agreements so that residents could access libraries in our neighbouring districts
“Councils preferred option was to renew this contract but the information we received indicated that this was not a good deal for our ratepayers’ money, particularly as it only benefits a small percentage of our residents,” says Mr Ion. “And, in essence, more than half of those that provided feedback said they wanted another option than the status quo.”
Mr Ion says this was one of many tough decisions that they were forced to make in order to keep rate rises under control.
“We know the value library services add to people’s lives. Your feedback clearly showed that our libraries are very valued in our communities and we want to be able to provide the best service possible to meet your needs, now and into the future. The next 12 months will be spent examining all other options available to us to best meet our library user’s needs.”