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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

Libraries feel the heat of July cuts in state aid

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The realities of Ohio's fiscal crunch are hitting home now with libraries, who've been told not to expect any state aid in July.

The impact of the April budget correction bill, which included $30 million in cuts from the Library and Local Government Support Fund, will be felt next month.

Tim Keen, the state's deputy budget director, said legislative language in the correction bill led to the cuts taking effect in June, the last month of the state's fiscal year.

The June cut will result in no money for libraries in July. Mr. Keen said the governor's proposal would have imposed the cuts gradually over three months.

Libraries and local governments also are being affected by poor personal income tax collections, a portion of which fuels the library and local government fund.

Lynda Murray of the Ohio Library Council said the July dry spell was expected and the 250 libraries have tried to prepare as much as possible.

But for the majority of libraries in the state that receive no funding from local levies, it's still difficult.

“We know that some branches will close and that some libraries have eliminated summer reading programs,” she said.

“But because we were able to plan ahead of time, we've seen more cuts in hours and reductions in books, staff, materials, and giveaway items.”



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