The board of trustees of the Harris-Elmore Public Library will hold a special meeting May 24 to discuss whether to place a property tax levy on the November ballot.
If board members decide to seek voter approval of a tax issue, it would be the first time in the library’s history it sought local revenues for financial support, said Georgina Huizenga, library director.
The board will meet at 7 p.m. at the library.
If the board approves a resolution to proceed with a levy request it would be submitted to the Ottawa County auditor’s office for certification and then presented to the Woodmore Board of Education, which is the library’s taxing authority, for approval to be placed on the ballot, Huizenga said.
As have libraries across the state, the Harris-Elmore library and its branch in Genoa, have had to contend with declining revenues from the Ohio Public Library Fund.
Cuts in the state budget resulted in the hours at both buildings being reduced – from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday to 12:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday hours were reduced to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., three hours earlier than prior to the cuts. Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wages were also frozen and hours for part-time staffers were reduced. Salaried employees were paid for 36 hours instead of 40 and were required to pay for half of the health insurance premiums.
“We’re at the point where we really can’t make anymore cuts without drastically affecting those who use our services,” Huizenga said.”And I don’t think things are going to get any better from the state in the near future.”
Even as the state’s economy struggles to gain momentum, voters have been supportive of local libraries at the polls.
According to the Ohio Library Council, 29 public library levy issues were on the ballot in the May 4 primary election and 25 were approved by voters.
Eighteen of the 21 new requests for revenue were approved.
Of the 251 public library systems in Ohio there are now 137 systems supported by local levies.
In November, 2009, Ohioans approved about 81 percent of the public library levies on local ballots, according to the OLC, which estimates libraries realized a loss of about 18 percent in state funding in 2009 and are projected to lose another seven to 10 percent in 2010.