Bexley Public Library officials asked the Bexley board of education Monday night to approve a levy for the library on the November ballot.

Bexley Public Library officials asked the Bexley board of education Monday night to approve a levy for the library on the November ballot.

"If we are to continue to exist we need a levy," library board of trustees president Alan Radnor said.

Under Gov. Ted Strickland's current budget proposal, the Bexley Public Library could lose close to a million dollars. Strickland has proposed a 30-percent reduction in funding for libraries.

Unable to meet a July 1 deadline for passing a new two-year budget, Ohio lawmakers planned to pass a one-week interim plan. Statehouse leaders were expected to further cut higher education to help reduce proposed cuts to libraries, mental-health services and community-based services for Medicaid recipients, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Director Robert Stafford said the Bexley library is one of 251 public library systems in Ohio and one of seven library districts in Franklin County. All libraries receive funding from the state. A few have operating levies, but 70 percent of library systems live off the public library fund, which comprises 2.2 percent of state revenue, Stafford said.

Library officials were trying to deal with a 20-percent revenue loss without further state cuts, he said.

"We were already struggling with how to deal with the decline," Stafford said.

He said the library receives $1,856,000 a year from the state and has a $464,000 shortfall. The library also receives smaller amounts of revenue from other sources.

Radnor said the library will ask for a 1.5-mill, five-year levy. It would cost a Bexley homeowner $45.94 each year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

"It was determined by the board members this was necessary for survival," Radnor said.

He said without a levy, the library will be forced to cut hours and the materials budget. The library also would be forced to close in two or three years and join the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Radnor said. If that happens, Bexley residents would be taxed by the county library system, he said.

School board member Craig Halliday said he was concerned about approving the resolution because he first learned about the levy less than a week ago.

When the school board goes on the ballot, a political action committee is formed and there is a lot of public input, said school board member Steve Grossman, who was concerned about the timing of the library levy.

Library board member Rocky Saxbe said library officials also were surprised by the plans to further cut library funding. They want a November levy instead of competing with a school levy in 2010.

"We didn't want to do anything that would compromise the passage of that levy," Saxbe said.

School board president Andrew Sutter said he was sympathetic to the request and considers the library one of the city's jewels. However, he said he needed more time to consider the request.