By Sean Barron
Mahoning County commissioners agreed to allow the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County to combine two real-estate tax levies into a single initiative for the Nov. 4 ballot.
A 1-mill levy passed in 2009 and a 1.8-mill measure approved in 2010 are to expire in December, Janet S. Loew said during Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting.
Loew, the library system’s communications and public-relations director, said the library board decided to place a 1.8-mill renewal levy on the ballot and add 0.6 mill while letting the 1-mill levy expire.
The effect of combining the two for a five-year, 2.4-mill levy, which would bring in about $9.3 million annually, will result in an 11 percent reduction for taxpayers, she added.
The owner of a $100,000 home pays $86 per year; passage of the combined levy in November would reduce that to $76 annually, noted Susan G. Merriman, fiscal officer.
Money has been saved over the past 15 or 16 years for a variety of construction projects as part of the system’s strategic plan, so no loans had to be taken out, and taxpayers saved in interest charges, Merriman explained.
The main projects are a $5 million Canfield branch and $15 million in renovations to the main branch on Wick and Rayen avenues in Youngstown. Trustees also are considering merging the Brownlee Woods and Struthers branches.
Library officials believed the levy amount could be lowered from 2.8 mills to 2.4 mills because money has been saved and earmarked for the construction as part of the planning process, Merriman said. In addition, sound fiscal responsibility allows the system to operate debt-free, she added.
The library system receives roughly 57 percent of its revenue from the levies, about 41 percent from the state and nearly 1.5 percent from fees, donations and fines. However, state public-library funding has dropped from $10.8 million to $7.6 million, a 30-percent reduction, between 2001 and 2013, library officials said.