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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011

Birchard Library seeks 1-mill, 5-year operating levy


Birchard Library of Sandusky County, which has a branch in Woodville, is asking voters to approve a 1-mill, five-year operating levy on the May 3 ballot as state funding continues to be cut.

More than 90 percent of the library's funding comes from the state. That annual funding, however, has dropped 30 percent in the last three years and is expected to be cut 5 percent more starting July 1.

The levy would raise $896,903 a year, and would cost the owner of a $100,000, owner-occupied home $30.62 a year, Sandusky County Auditor William Farrell said.

Birchard Library has not been on the local ballot since the 1980s, when buildings were renovated, Ms. Hoesman said. A fall survey of about 600 residents, including frequent library patrons and people outside of it, showed 74 percent would support a 1-mill levy, she said.

"Most of what I've been hearing has been very positive," Ms. Hoesman said.

The library has cut staff, hours, and services, yet expenses have exceeded revenues since 2008, Ms. Hoesman said.

Cash and money in a trust fund from private donors have been used to pay the deficit, but those resources are being depleted, she said.

Because of attrition and some layoffs, the library has 20 percent fewer employees than two years ago, Ms. Hoesman said.

Further reductions would be necessary if the levy doesn't pass, she said.

"We're really are at the point where if it doesn't pass now, we will have to further cut hours, which means we will have staff with reduced hours," Ms. Hoesman said.

Sandusky County residents in Woodmore Local School District are among those in Sandusky and Seneca counties eligible to vote on the levy. Besides Woodville, the library has locations in Fremont, Gibsonburg, and Green Springs.

Money for the levy campaign comes entirely from donations, not the library's budget, Ms. Hoesman noted.

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