By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County library system will appeal the county budget commission’s Sept. 5 decision that gave the system 50 percent of the state’s county library funding for 2013.
The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library board at its meeting last week voted to appeal the decision to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals in Columbus.
The county budget commission, composed of the county auditor, prosecuting attorney and county treasurer, allocated the state library funding after the libraries were unable to reach a consensus on their own.
The commission gave 50 percent of the money to the county system, which is made up of libraries in Warren, Brookfield, Cortland, Howland, Liberty and Lordstown and a bookmobile and homebound service.
The remaining 50 percent went to the six other libraries: Bristol, Girard, Hubbard, Kinsman, Niles and Newton Falls.
James A. Wilkins, director of the county system, said after the distribution was announced that the county system wanted an increase in this funding cycle from 50 percent to 59 percent because the county system serves 70 percent of the county’s population.
The county system said in a press release that the distribution would allocate $106.04 per person for the library in Bristolville; $62.41 for the library in Kinsman; $58.06 for the library in Girard; $55.70 for the library in Newton Falls; $47.20 for the library in Hubbard; $43.40 for the library in Niles; and $23.15 for the county system.
“We believe that a fair and equitable formula is needed for the distribution of public-library funds in Trumbull County,” said Franklin Manios, president of the county library board.
“This distribution allocates significantly less per person for patrons in the county district library, which seems greatly out of balance.”
Rose Ann Lubert, director of the Girard Free Library, said the appeal will cost county residents money to hire attorneys to fight this battle in Columbus. The Girard Free Library will have to employ an attorney to defend its interests in the case, she said.
Lubert said the appeal is unfortunate because it could have been avoided. Most of the library systems agreed several months ago to a funding formula that would have increased the county system’s share to 55 percent.
The Bristol Public Library and Kinsman Free Library refused to go along, however.
Debbie Messic, fiscal officer for the Bristol library, said her organization rejected the proposal because the Bristol library would have lost $21,633 in 2013 and additional amounts through 2019.
That would have used up all of the money voters approved at the polls last November and would have run the facility out of business, Messic said.
What is unfair about that is that Bristol would have had to give up the same amount of its funding as each of the six other libraries even though some are larger than Bristol.
Messic said she disagrees that the county system’s appeal will draw any of the other libraries into the fray and cause legal expenses.