Library levy on hold
The Southwest Public Libraries (SPL) Board of Trustees have decided not to pursue a tax levy this November.
“Given the political climate in this district, it is just not the best time,” said Amy Shaw, public information officer at SPL.
Shaw said it has always been difficult to pass a levy in the district. SPL has attempted seven tax levies in the past 20 years. All failed.
“When we put an issue on the ballot, we want it to be the best time,” said Shaw. “Now is not that time.”
The board considered a 1-mill levy to help offset the recent 30 percent budget reduction from the state.
“We took a huge hit in 2009, but we’ve been on decline for the past few years,” said Shaw.
The Ohio General Assembly approved a state budget proposal to slash the Ohio Library Fund by $84 million over the next two years. Revenue for SPL is projected to decline by $800,000 this year and $1.1 million next year, compared to 2008 funds. The library receives 95 percent of its funding from the state.
In an effort to crunch the budget, the board voted to reduce 16 hours of operation each week at both the Grove City Library and the Westland Area Library. They have suspended all purchases (books, CDs, DVDs) through the end of the year.
Shaw said several employees have been laid off and some have taken an early retirement option.
“In the last few years, we went from 116 employees to 60 employees,” said Shaw.
She also explained that each employee has taken a pay cut and will have to take two furlough days each month.
“We are very limited with staff, money and everything.”
SPL will maintain its outreach service to homebound customers, but eliminated all other outreach functions, including delivery to nursing homes, daycares and Headstart programs.
Shaw explained the trustees will hold an annual retreat in the fall. They will likely focus the discussion on a future tax levy.
^ back to top