Ashtabula County District Library will ask voters to approve a 1.25-mill levy on Nov. 5.
The Ashtabula County Auditor has certified the levy will generate a little more than $1 million during its first year of collection, based on the current assessed valuation of the Ashtabula County District Library service area of $916,696,550.
The levy will be used to cover operating expenses for the Ashtabula County District Library for 10 years. This includes the Ashtabula and Geneva libraries, as well as the Bookmobile.
If the levy passes, the owner of home valued at $75,000, will pay $33 a year, or just $2.75 a month, Library Director William Tokarczyk said.
“We don’t want to keep coming back to the voters that’s why we made it for 10 years,” he said. “By helping the library maintain and expand existing services and programs, revenue from the levy will provide a sustainable source of funding to ensure we can operate our libraries for the next decade.”
State funding for libraries has been on a downward trend for the past 12 years. State funding has been reduced by more than one-third compared to just five years ago.
“We’ve taken measures to cope but at a tremendous cost in the level of service to the public,” Tokarczyk said. “We are 12- to 15,000-feet short for computers, study rooms and books.”
The library has made a commitment to stay downtown. It is renovating the oldest part of the library first. Passersby may have noticed workers doing brickwork and replacing windows over the summer.
The library also purchased the property behind it from the Ashtabula Area City School District so someday it can expand on a “pay as you go” basis, Tokarczyk said.
The “pay-as-you-go” plan is because money is tight.
Faithful library patrons know this because they have seen a reduction in hours of operation; the Bookmobile schedule reduced; sharply curtailed programs for children, teens and adults; discontinued magazine and database subscriptions; and drastically reduced purchases of new materials.