Meeting focus: Plain City library levy

For the first time since its organization in 1946, the Plain City Public Library is seeking local financial support in the form of a levy, which will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions about the levy at a town meeting set for 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the library.

    The library is requesting voter support for a 0.75-mill, five-year levy for operating expenses. The cost to the owner of a home valued at $100,000 will be approximately $23 per year. According to the Madison County Auditor’s Office, the levy will generate an estimated $190,938 annually.

    “Our funding is less and the demand is more,” said library Director Chris Long. “The cost of keeping the library operational has grown significantly while funding has been reduced or flat since 2002.”

    The Plain City Library receives 96 percent of its funding from the State of Ohio, which over the last several years has frozen or reduced the amount of money it provides to public libraries. The other 4 percent of the library’s funding comes from overdue fines, copier/fax fees (used to offset maintenance costs for the copier/fax equipment), and donations.

    “This is not a building project,” Long said of the levy request. “Funds will be used to reinstate programs and services that have already been cut and to stay operational for at least the next five years.”

    Each of the last five years, the library has made $50,000 or more in cuts, including reductions in staff hours, youth programs, books, audiovisual materials, and facility maintenance.

    “The library is paying more for those invisible things like utilities, communications, postage and healthcare,” Long said. “Almost everything citizens get at the public library is free to them. It’s so easy to forget that there is a cost to offer those services. Even libraries need to pay an electric bill.”

    If the levy fails, the library will face an estimated deficit of $45,000 and, therefore, will reduce hours of operation and staff hours. Outreach services for educators and senior citizens also would be cut or eliminated.

    “Our community and our patrons have been keeping us going the last five years, but we’re running out of cushion,” Long said. “Our carryover will be non-existent starting next year (if the levy doesn’t pass).”

    The library is an independent entity governed by a seven-member board of trustees. The library’s service area covers the Jonathan Alder Local School District. For more information, call 614-873-4912 or stop in, 305 W. Main St., Plain City.

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