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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2008

Swanton library to seek levy for funding locally for 1st time since 1978

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In the face of declining state funding, the Swanton Public Library board is preparing to seek tax support from the community for the first time since 1978.

The library's board of trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to seek authorization for a 0.5-mill levy in the November election. The levy would generate about $100,000 annually for the library. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $15.87 annually.

With the exception of a 0.7-mill bond issue in 1978, the library has relied largely on Ohio's Library and Local Government Support Fund, which provides about $350,000 annually from state income tax revenues. But that support has declined by about $24,000 since 2005, from $365,000 to $341,000 projected for 2008.

Personnel, material, and energy expenses are rising, Director Linda Slaninka said.

To cope with the cuts, the library has reduced its hours of operations, employee hours and benefits, and materials costs, Mrs. Slaninka said.

"Still, we are unable to keep pace with current expenses," she said. "It's been difficult to compensate with these mandatory increases with static funding."

In addition, the library has deferred building maintenance projects. Mrs. Slaninka estimates that resurfacing the parking lot, performing computer upgrades, and repairing the roof and carpet will cost between $60,000 to $70,000. The library's five public computer work stations still use the older Windows 98 operating system. The roof leaks in the children's area.

Expenses for 2007 outstripped revenues by about $30,000. The library has drawn about $40,000 from its investment funds since January. Those funds are dwindling, Fiscal Officer Rita Bayer said. The library maintains about $90,000 in investments. About $23,000 of that total, however, is in nonexpendable trusts, Ms. Bayer said. "We're going to have to go for a levy," she said. "For 30 years we've been very stable - but all these cuts."

The second-largest source of revenue for the library is fines and fees, which generated about $13,000 last year. Contributions generated about $11,000.

Trustees are debating a possible duration for the tax proposal. Some members have expressed preference for a continuing levy that would remain in effect indefinitely. A five-year levy is also being considered. Duration will be decided at a July 21 meeting.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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