Now more than ever, residents rely on the Westerville Public Library for books, research, internet access, job searches, homework assistance and other critical services they need daily. In ten years the library has not increased its .8-mill levy, the library’s only local tax support. Westerville is the lowest locally funded library in Franklin County.
State funding for the Westerville Public Library has been cut $1.6 million since the .8-mill levy was passed in 2007. We are now at 1996 funding levels. State funding will be reduced by an additional $300,000 through 2013.
In the past five years, our library has had to cut staff, reduce library hours by closing Sundays, reduce our book budget by 40%, and defer critical building maintenance. Without the replacement levy, the library will lose 42% of our funding at the end of next year. It’s an additional $3.06 per month per $100,000 of home value.
To offset further losses, the Library Board determined that 2.0 mils is needed to maintain the level of programs and services our community needs. The Library Board also weighed carefully the options and saw the need for a continuing levy term rather than five-year. The library simply cannot move forward with the prospect of losing 60% of its funding every five years. With a stable funding source, the library can plan with certainty and not have to return to the voters for additional funding for at least ten years.
What will the Replacement Levy with additional millage cost? The new levy will total $61.25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, or $3.06 per month. Currently, the Westerville Public Library has the lowest funding of Franklin County’s seven library systems. If successful in November, Westerville would still be the third lowest funded library in Franklin County.
How much will the new levy cost me compared to other communities?
- Worthington $163/4.8 mils
- Grandview $144/4.7 mils
- Columbus $86/2.8 mils
- Average $84/2.475 mils
- Delaware $78/1.0 mil
- Upper Arlington $62/2.0 mils
- Westerville $61/2.0 mils
- Bexley $46/1.5 mils
- Grove City $31/1.0 mil
What will we do with the levy funds?
- Reopen and expand Sunday hours of operation.
- Restore the more than 40% in cuts to purchasing library materials since 2007.
- Fill 12 of the 14 open library positions reduced due to state funding cuts.
- Add much-needed parking space.
- Open the Local History Center on Saturdays.
- Replace the aging carpet in Adult Services.
- Improve the Library drive-up window and drop slot.
- Replace the 1955 and 1980 heating and air conditioning systems.
- Offer requested Adult, Youth and Teen programming.
- Update the Youth area.
These are the major areas that must be improved for the library to continue the programs and services you rely upon from the Westerville Public Library. Our promise to you is that with your help we will accomplish all of this and more. And, we will continue to be one of the most cost efficient libraries in the country.
All of us at the library ask for your support of the November Replacement Levy. Help keep our library strong, vibrant and responsive to your needs. We pledge to continue providing good stewardship and value for the funds that you entrust to us. As always, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. I can be reached through this blog or by telephone at (614) 882-7277, Extension 2140.
Thank you so much for your continuing support of the Westerville Public Library.
Don W. Barlow