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Library levy put on ballot



Published: Fri, August 14, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

Let’s focus on getting existing levies renewed Nov. 3, a commissioner said.

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County commissioners have placed a 1-mill, five-year renewal of the public library levy on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

This is the third levy they have placed on the fall ballot. The others are the half-percent sales tax they seek to renew continuously and the 1-mill, five-year county Children Services Board renewal.

On Thursday, the commissioners placed the 1-mill library measure on the ballot as requested Tuesday by the board of trustees of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

That levy, which expires Dec. 31, 2010, generates $3.07 million in annual revenue. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home $26.95 annually. The library system’s budget is $12,684,641 this year.

The renewal is critical to the library system, said Carlton Sears, library system director.

“Quite frankly, if we don’t have the renewal, we’re only left with state funds,” Sears explained. The library system got $11 million in state funds in 2001. Next year, it expects to receive $6.7 million from the state, Sears said.

The library board had previously recommended a 1.7-mill, five-year levy, consisting of a 1-mill replacement levy and a 0.7-mill additional levy, which would have generated $6.87 million annually.

Sears had earlier said passage of the 1.7-mill measure, which would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $52 per year, might have allowed service reductions that will take effect next month to be partially restored next year.

“If you looked at the last election, the renewals passed, but the new ones — a lot of them did not pass,” county Commissioner David N. Ludt said, explaining why he voted to put only a renewal levy on the ballot for the libraries.

As for any proposed additional library millage: “They can put that on in May of next year,” in the primary election, Ludt said.

“Right now, I’m interested in passing our [sales] tax and getting their [library’s] renewal passed,” Ludt explained, adding that he thinks the CSB levy will pass easily. “That usually passes by 60 to 70 percent,” he said of the child welfare agency’s levy.

Because of drastic state funding cuts, the library board has approved a 15-percent reduction in library hours beginning Sept. 8, which will result in the loss of about one day a week of service at each branch. The system consists of main library and 15 branches throughout the county.

In other action, the commissioners awarded a $147,600 contract to Ameriseal Restoration LLC of Akron for an evaluation of the facade of the century-old county courthouse to determine what repairs might be needed.

They also accepted a new $50,000 U.S. Department of Justice crime-fighting technology grant to the sheriff’s department for such things as digital cameras for photographing crime scenes and laptop computers.


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