Council plays hardball with Library closures

Lui Zacher
May 16, 2023 / 4:30 am

sullivan profile 16052023

The City of Greater Gelong has doubled down on claims the body in charge of local libraries has options ‘they are choosing not to take up’.

A funding shortfall and an increase in services are expected of the Geelong Regional Libraries (GRLC), a council funded corporation dedicated to running libraries across Geelong and the Surf Coast.

GRLC said a $1m funding shortfall would force the closure of Barwon Heads, Geelong West and Highton libraries, as well as the transition of Chilwell LIbrary to an unstaffed model.

Despite repeated attempts, the City of Greater Geelong has declined to comment to Geelong Broadcasters on the matter.

Mayor Trent Sullivan was on ABC Melbourne on Tuesday morning, where he faced a barrage of callers angry and disappointed at the prospect their local library branch might be closed.

However, Mr Sullivan claims the onus is on the GRLC to continue operation, including two new libraries, despite only reciving a funding boost of around 2% of last year’s budget.

“Well that’s something of the board of the corporation on their budget to run, not (the City of Greater Geelong),” he told Virginia Trioli.

It’s a requirement of council to provide library services, and we have engaged the corporation to do so”

“If the coropration fulfill that requirement, then it’s up to (Council) to make the next decision”

With inflation, the Corporation would have required a boost near $900,000 to keep up with the 7% peak in the last 12 months.

Mr Sullivan was pressed over the posiblity that the City of Greater Geelong may re-take control of local libraries:

“That is an option, but the first option is always in good faith … if not, then we’re looking at (taking back control of the libraries)”

The City of Greater Geelong issued a statement on Saturday afternoon 

Council’s Acting CEO Kaarina Phyland said the operator has options ‘they are choosing not to take up’.

“Like many governments and other organisations, we are under financial pressure due to rapidly rising costs,” she said.

“Our Council is facing difficult decisions as it looks to keep the City financially sustainable so we can continue to focus on the critical areas only a council can deliver for their community.

“Within this context we are asking all of our service providers to do the same.”