Upper Arlington Public Library officials are concerned about how recent state legislation will affect their budget process and next year's anticipated levy request.

Upper Arlington Public Library officials are concerned about how recent state legislation will affect their budget process and next year's anticipated levy request.

The UAPL board of trustees and Lynda Murray, director of government and legal services at the Ohio Library Council, spent much of the May 17 meeting discussing the upcoming levy campaign.

Next spring, the library plans to place a levy on the ballot to either renew or replace the current operating levy, approved by voters in 2007. It is due to expire in 2012.

According to library director Ann Moore, the levy represents 54 percent of the library's budget.

The Ohio Library Council is an advocate for public libraries and is comprised of public and private library institutions and library related boards, vendors and organizations, according to its website. The board invited Murray to provide information about legislative changes that affect the library's funding and statistics related to recent library levy campaigns.

The library board and staff are in the process of developing a five-year budget through 2017. During the development of the budget, according to Moore, the library has to focus on funding cuts as well as the cuts in the budget, while trying to maintain the current level of service to residents.

Murray said that the library will not benefit from Senate Bill 5, and that other proposed changes meant to save local government entities money also are unlikely to help.

"In the general assembly, they say they're cutting your expenses through things like S.B. 5, but the (Upper Arlington) library is already a non-union library, so there's no benefit," Murray said. "House Bill 66 removes the (Tangible Personal Property) tax contribution for libraries receiving less than 6 percent, which includes (Upper Arlington). Also, the changes to the pension system are currently on hold (in the legislature), so there's not going to be any savings from that yet."

Under House Bill.153, Murray said, the Public Library Fund is being reduced by 6.5 percent and then frozen at the 2011 funding levels, even if the state's budget grows. Murray also said that under House Bill 194 there are proposed fee increases for county elections, which could result in libraries paying up front for ballot issues, such as UAPL's planned upcoming levy request.

Moore expressed concern that patrons are not aware of the cuts the library has already had to make.

"We've done everything we can not to be punitive in our cuts," Moore said. "I'm worried that we've done such a good job of making the cuts transparent that we're going to have trouble with the levy."

Ohio Library Council research, according to Murray, shows that since the cuts in library funding between 2008 through 2010, more than 70 percent of levies have passed. However, she said, the research shows that patrons notice cuts in materials the most.

"At a Columbus library focus group of once-a-week or more library patrons, these patrons knew how materials went through the weeding process, something most library staff doesn't even know, so that they could get the newest materials first," Murray said. "But most of them didn't know or really understand how the library was funded."

Board trustee William Shkurti thanked Murray for her participationbefore the board concluded its discussion about the library budget and levy campaign.

The next board meeting will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, in meeting room B on the lower level of the Tremont library branch.