The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 18, 2013

Ashtabula County District Library will ask voters to approve a 1.25-mill levy on Nov. 5.

By SHELLEY TERRY
Staff Writer

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.

The passage of the levy will enable the library to restore hours, programs and book and media purchases.

The library’s infrastructure also is in need of repair, including the windows and carpeting. The Geneva Library needs carpeting, as well.

ACDL, like most libraries in Ohio, has been funded more than 90 percent by the state since the mid-1980s. Since 2008, the state has cut funding by $400,000, and by more than $600,000 annually since its peak in 2001, Tokarczyk said.

Tokarczyk believe area residents don’t realize how many people use the library. Many people in the community, including the elderly, use the computers to get on the Internet.

When the economy is bad, people use the library a lot,” he said. “The unemployed use our on-line services.”

Patrons stand in line to use the computers.

The library also offers faxing and scanning services for a small fee.

The Harbor-Topky Memorial Library District is asking voters to renew a 2.0-mill current expense tax levy.

If passed, the levy will provide for the current expenses of the library, 1633 Walnut Boulevard, Ashtabula.

The levy will not raise taxes.

For nearly 90 years, the library and its facilities has been serving the educational and recreational needs of the Ashtabula harbor.

The Kingsville Public Library is looking for support for a 1.0-mill renewal levy on the November ballot. The five-year levy will be presented to voters in Kingsville Township, the Village of North Kingsville, and the portion of voters in the Buckeye Local School District who live in Sheffield and Monroe townships.

The levy will generate will help pay for the library’s current expenses.

Andover Public Library is seeking a five-year .5-mil tax levy to assist with operating costs.

Susan Hill, library director, said this is the first time the library has had a levy of its own, in which the funds will come directly to the Andover library for its operating expenses.

For a family with a $100,000 home, appraised at $35,000 for taxes, payments will be $8.75 every six months, or $17.50 per year.

The levy will bring in $74,000 a year — enough to carry on most of the library’s programs and activities, said Don Eyring, president of the board of library trustees.

The Andover Public Library is a school district library so residents of New Lyme Township, Andover Village and Andover Township, Richmond Township, Cherry Valley Township, Wayne Township, Williamsfield Township and Pierpont Township will be asked to vote on the measure.