Bexley News

Bexley Public Library

Fall levy seen as key to support of service

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Last month's passage of the state's biennial budget resulted in some minor adjustments for the Bexley Public Library.

Ohio's new two-year, $62 billion budget was signed into law June 30, and involves a number of changes.

One of the changes included in House Bill 59 is the elimination of the state's reimbursement to local entities of the 12.5 percent property tax rollback on new millage.

That means taxpayers will pay a little more than expected when asked to approve a 2.8-mil operating levy for the local library come November.

Bexley Board of Education members voted unanimously during June's regular monthly meeting to place a 2.8-mill operating levy on the Nov. 5 ballot to fund the Bexley Public Library. The measure was placed before the school board because it acts as the library system's taxing authority.

Rachel Rubin, director of the Bexley Public Library, said a five-year, 1.5-mill levy approved by voters in 2009 would be replaced by the 2.8-mill operating levy should community members approve it this fall.

For each $100,000 of property valuation, the difference between the 2.8-mill levy and the current 1.5-mill levy would be about $3.90 per month, or $46.80 per year, with the total cost being about $7.62 per month, or $91.44 per year.

That's a $5.64 annual increase over previous estimates.

"There are some things we started not knowing how successful they'd be -- and they just took off," Rubin told school board members last month.

The levy funding would be used not only to maintain current services, she said, but to expand new services that patrons have favorably responded to -- including the Homework Help Center, services to seniors and web access.

The library, founded in 1925 and housed at 2411 E. Main St. since 1929, had operated on money from the Ohio Public Library Fund until 2009, when the amount received was reduced by almost 31 percent, Rubin said. Then, funding was cut by $575,000 -- one-third of the library's annual budget.

At the time, the library was funded 100 percent through the state.

The 2009 levy -- the first in the library's 84-year history -- was approved by voters with 77 percent in favor, and helped to make up for that shortfall.

"Now more than ever, residents rely on Bexley Public Library for books, research, Internet access, job searches, homework assistance and other services on a daily basis. The Bexley Public Library has grown from providing reading and research resources, to being a full-service community center with a wide variety of programs, computer classes, electronic resources and meeting rooms," Rubin said.

"The library has made significant improvements over the past four years on a tight budget," said Anne Lewis, chairwoman of Bexley Public Library's board of trustees.

"(The) library administration has worked to regulate expenses by controlling staffing costs, increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs, and seeking grants and contributions whenever possible. By taking those savings and redirecting them to public services and programs, we have tried to keep up with the increases in usage."

"This replacement levy is absolutely critical for the library," added Rubin. "Without it, we could lose up to 31 percent of our funding.

"We realize that it is a burden any time a community is asked to pass a levy, and we are thankful for the tremendous support we have already received from Bexley residents."

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