Saturday, March 2, 2024

Reader: That’s Not How Accounting Works at All!

Dear Editor,

It’s unlikely, but still possible, that there is a Professor of Cost Accounting somewhere in Ontario still worrying that I might come back to his class.

Today? Hopefully, after decades and decades, today may be the day I finally make that poor Professor proud.

The proposed 2024 Town of Meaford Budget lists a Net Expenditure (Revenues taken in, less the costs to operate) for the Meaford Arena and Community Centre of $145,000.

The Meaford Knights schedule calls for them to play 22 hockey games at home this season.

That means the Town of Meaford shells out $6,591 every time the Knights of Meaford play hockey at home. Doesn’t it? $6,591! For one hockey team!

Except it doesn’t mean that at all. Nothing could possibly be further from the truth. If that was really the case, Meaford would be providing ice time for minor hockey, public and figure skating, banquet, meeting, funeral, and wedding space, Elections Canada, Elections Ontario, and Meaford, election facilities, all at ZERO cost to Meaford! What a deal! Other than those Knights of Meaford hockey guys I mean.

Allocating the entire net cost to operate the Arena to the Knights hockey team would be just silly.

Just as silly as it would be to allocate the entire cost of operating the Meaford Public Library to an estimated 100 books borrowed per day. That would make it appear like those book loans are costing us an awful lot of money. But just look at the deal we’d be getting on study space for kids after school, meeting spaces for community groups, WIFI use (thanks Rotary Club and Friends of the Library!), plus computers for those who don’t have access to one at home. And Pickleball sets! And ukuleles! Snowshoes! And bird-watching sets! All at ZERO cost to Meaford. What a deal! Other than those really pricey book loans, I guess. Those book loans are killing us.

No one should think allocating the entire cost of operating the Library to just their personal guess at the number of books borrowed every day makes any sense at all. No one should believe that.

One of the strongest predictors of how well you do in school is the number of books there were in the home you grew up in. If you grew up surrounded by books? You probably achieved more in school.

And if you can’t surround yourself with purchased books as a kid? Or there’s no quiet place for you to study at home? There’s only really one place to go. The Public Library system.

We shouldn’t even want to debate providing library services.

But if we have to have a debate over the cost of providing library services, let’s at least make it an honest one.

Bruce Mason, Meaford


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