Group Participation Charge

Group “Per-Session” Charge

You may remember that at the last Assemblée Générale (AGM), a motion from the floor to increase the “per-session, per participant” charge for group activity to 4€ was passed.  As part of that decision, members required the Conseil to review its impact after 6 months.  This report provides information on the outcome of that review.

Background

The motion to increase the “per-session” charge from 2€ for all groups meeting in the Library, to 4€ for all groups regardless of the location of their activities[1], was tabled in response to the Library’s financial situation.  In brief, the AGM had agreed to an increase in the membership fee with effect from 2019 but recognized that further income-generating measures would be necessary to keep the Library solvent for the remainder of 2018.

The Review

At its meeting on 25 September, the Conseil considered information relating to participation in group activities and the financial contribution the “per-session” charges are making to the Library’s finances.

Conseil found no evidence that the introduction of the increased charges had adversely affected group participation.  While regrettably some individuals had ceased or reduced their involvement in groups, in most cases the number of attendees has been maintained or bettered.  A number of groups are very buoyant and places are in demand.

Financially, the session charges from groups are making such an important contribution to the Library that they now considerably exceed annual income from membership fees.  It is fair to say that the Library would be facing a very precarious financial situation were it not for this source of revenue.

Looking Ahead

You may recall that expenditure on energy costs is a major concern.  Although we know that the Mairie understands the need to insulate the building, to our knowledge the necessary work has yet to be scheduled into its maintenance plan and budget.  It therefore seems likely that we face another winter of high heating bills.  Clearly, we will do all we can to contain costs, but we cannot expect volunteers to work in, and Library users to be subjected to, intolerable conditions.  We must therefore ensure that we have the funds available to meet the electricity bills as they fall due.

From January, the new membership fee (24€ per household per year/less than 50 cents per week) comes into effect and this should provide a higher and predictable basic income.  However, at the moment we cannot predict the impact of this higher fee on membership numbers, and we may not be in a position to measure this before the next AGM.   Should membership numbers decline significantly, that would threaten the financial and social viability of the Library.

Conclusion

Conseil is of the view that the new “per-session” charges have brought considerable and essential financial benefits without resulting in serious negative impact on group activity.  It has therefore decided to continue with the current regime until the next AGM (March 2019) when we will have better information on membership numbers and the wider financial position is better understood.  At that point, it hopes to present options for sustaining financial viability for members to consider and decide upon.

[1] An exception was made for the Walking Group whose activities preclude access to refreshment provided by the Library. Conseil subsequently approved the same regime for the Gardening Group whose circumstances are similar. The session charge for these groups is 2€.

Library Co-President

Steve Chicken