The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 2, 2010

Voters close book on libraries

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Voters closed the book Tuesday on library services in Ashtabula County, defeating Issue 3, the 1.35-mill five-year levy for operations at Ashtabula County District Library.

According to the unofficial results of the Board of Elections, 8,958 or 51 percent of the voters said ‘no’ to the library levy compared to 8,532 or 49 percent who said ‘yes’ to the levy.

If approved by the voters, Issue 3 would have generated about $1.4 million, essentially replacing state funding, which has diminished almost every year since 2001. It would have cost the owner of a $75,000 property less than $36 a year in additional tax.

Now library officials say there will have to be deeper cuts, maybe closing the library an additional day of the week.

The levy request was necessary because of a shortfall in state funding, which totaled $2.4 million since 2001, the high-water mark of the state’s spending on libraries.

ACDL, consisting of the Ashtabula and Geneva Libraries and the Bookmobile, is the largest library district in the county.

The 1.9-mill levy for the Henderson Memorial Library, 54 E. Jefferson St., Jefferson,  also was voted down Tuesday.

According to the unofficial results, 831 voters approved the levy, while 855 voted against it.

However, there are still provisional ballots unaccounted for that could change the outcome, officials at the Board of Elections said.

The levy affected Jefferson Village and Jefferson Township only.

Library Director Kathleen Jozwiak said the levy needed to pass to stabilize and preserve the services and materials the library has now.

Henderson Memorial Library has not asked for an increase in local support since 1980.

If the levy had passed, the library was going to hire its own children’s librarian.

The levy passage would have also ensured the library would be able to keep enough staff to serve the public, and continue to purchase new books, movies and other materials.

Star Beacon staff writer Ellen Kolman contributed to this story.