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Mahoning County library levy renewed

YOUNGSTOWN — Voters in Mahoning County have renewed the library system’s operating levy.

With all 209 precincts reporting, 66 percent of voters approved the 2.4-mill renewal levy for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, according to unofficial election night results from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

The five-year levy does not request any new millage and provides more than half of the library’s budget, according to the Citizens Committee for the Library Levy Renewal.

The levy costs Mahoning County homeowners $6.86 per month for every $100,000 of real estate value, or $82.34 per year for a home valued at $100,000, according to MyLibraryLevy.org. The levy generated $9.8 million in 2018.

“This levy pays a lot of our day-to-day operating expenses at our 15 locations. It keeps the lights on and the doors open; it keeps the staff paid and materials on the shelves; it provides for our internet access,” said Aimee Fifarek, executive director of the library system.

Fifarek said the library is going back to work to focus on programs and the renovation of the main library.

While the project is still in the design phase, it is estimated the renovations will cost around $21 million, Fifarek said.

But because the library system has been saving money for the last 10 years, the system won’t have to go out and ask voters for money to pay for it.

“We try to be fiscally responsible, so we have been setting money aside out of the budget for building repairs, and in our technology fund. So we have money in the bank, so we don’t need a bond issue from voters. The money is earning interest in the bank, so we won’t have to pay out interest to borrow money and we can save the taxpayers money,” Fifarek said.

Now, the library is also focusing on its “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” initiative, helping parents of young kids expand their child’s vocabulary so he or she is prepared for kindergarten, Fifarek said.

If the library renewal hadn’t passed, the system would have had to dig into funds reserved for the special projects to fund the day-to-day operations, Fifarek said.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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