Library eyes fall levy (1-22-14) PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA, Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:28
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That the Wood County District Public Library will have some type of levy on the November 2014 ballot is probably not in doubt.
The question is simply how much and for how long.
The library's Board of Trustees will be spending the coming weeks or months sorting through a host of possible scenarios: Whether to request a simple renewal of the current levy, a replacement or additional dollars - and whether the duration of the levy should be shorter or longer this next time around.
"I would assume in the next three, four months we would make a decision regarding a levy renewal or replacement," Board President Brian Paskvan said during Tuesday's monthly meeting of the trustees.
A decision must be made by April for the issue to go on the November ballot, which, assuming it passes, would prevent any interruption to the current revenue stream.
County residents voted passage of the library's first-ever levy, a 0.8 mill, 5-year levy, in November 2010, in response to a dramatic reduction in funding from the state. In return, the library promised restoration of reduced hours, services, and purchase of more new books - all of which have since been delivered.
The present levy is being collected through 2014 and pays from 2011-2015.
It was originally estimated to generate $1,039,000 per year.
Actual gross receipts collected totaled $1,038,000 in 2011, but only $974,000 in 2012 and $981,000 in 2013 due to the property revaluation that occurred in 2012, according to library director Michael Penrod.
"Agricultural property (tax rates) went up, but residential property went down," Penrod said. So the county library saw a reduction of 6.2 percent and 5.5 percent for the two years in question.
Way Library at Perrysburg, by contrast, experienced a drop in property tax funding of 10 or 11 percent since more of Perrysburg's voters own residential than agricultural land.
The board was offered a comparison list of dollar amounts that would be raised by four different millage amounts this next time around.
Renewing the current 0.80 millage would yield $979,000 a year, while a slight reduction to 0.75 mills would produce $917,000. A slight increase to 0.85 mills would raise $1,040,000 per year and 0.90 mills would provide $1,101,000.
Currently, "43 percent of our revenue is from the levy," Paskvan noted, "since state funding went down so much. The state share of our funding used to be 90 to 92 percent. It's down to about 50 percent now."
There is one powerful inducement for sticking with a simple renewal levy, he stated. It is the only way the state's current 12.5 percent rollback remains active.
"If we ask for any replacement or additional dollars, the rollback will go away for property owners due to changes in the last state budget bill."
The board is, however, allowed to lengthen the duration of the levy without harming the state rollback. Paskvan indicated he might recommend going to a six- or eight-year levy duration, instead of the current five years.
A six-year levy would collect from 2015-2020; an eight-year levy would run until 2022.
Most other public agencies in the county have 10-year levies, Paskvan added, with one or two exceptions that are five years.
In any event, "state funding is still reduced by 31 percent and continues to decrease," he said. "2014 funding will be at 1996 levels."
Library usage, on the other hand, remains at an all-time high in terms of number of items checked out, foot traffic into the building, and attendance at programs and classes, according to Penrod. And those figures don't fully reflect online usage by library patrons, which is skyrocketing.
Penrod said that Ohio is in a much better situation than neighboring Michigan in terms of providing its citizens a free statewide borrowing network.
"If a Detroit resident wants to borrow a book across the line in Troy, they're told 'You have to pay a $120-a-year library card fee.'"
Board member Ellen Dalton termed Ohio's arrangement "a much more efficient use of tax dollars."
Penrod reported that the library's properties in BG and Walbridge survived the recent frigid temperatures well, with the exception of "one small water line break in the basement of the Carter House." In response, "we're going to go in and insulate the crawl space completely with foam insulation."`
In other business:
• The board voted to maintain its current officers for the coming year, with Paskvan as president and Chet Marcin, vice president.
• Decided to change the time of its monthly meetings during the winter months to convene during daylight. Meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 4 p.m. in November, December, January, February and March.
During all other months, meetings will continue to be held at 7:30 a.m. on the third Tuesday.
• Formally accepted its 2013 donor gifts, which totaled $210,700. Included in that figure were donations as modest as $10 or $20.
At the opposite end of the spectrum were $15,910 from the Wood County District Public Library Foundation for Carter House renovation, $62,165 from the Audrey Rentz estate, $1,500 from the Bowling Green Community Foundation for the Community Reads program, and an $1,800 donation from the Friends of the Library for the Summer Reading program.
 

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