Pickerington Public Library officials are promising expanded hours and outreach following the passage of Issue 4 this month.

On Nov. 6, local voters approved a new, permanent 1.25-mill operating levy for the library.

According to unofficial final results from the Fairfield County Board of Elections, Issue 4 passed 12,052 votes (58 percent) to 8,747 (42 percent).

"We're happy that the voters see value in the services and resources provided by the library," said Tony Howard, library director.

"This levy makes up 57 percent of our operating funds. Without this money, we could not continue to provide the great services, classes and events our community already enjoys."

Issue 4 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

It renewed a 10-year, 0.75-mill levy, which was last approved in November 2009 and generates approximately $830,000 annually, according to library officials.

The library also receives funding from the state of Ohio, and its operating budget in 2018 is approximately $2.21 million, Howard said.

In addition to renewing those levy funds, Issue 4 also will collect an additional 0.5 mill.

All together, the 1.25-mill permanent levy will bring in $1.485 million annually.

The stability the levy provides will enable the library officials to expand hours at its Sycamore Plaza branch, 7861 Refugee Road, which opened in September 2017.

"In 2019, we are planning to expand hours of operation at (the) Sycamore Plaza Library Branch," Howard said. "We also have plans to expand our outreach services to the community, especially in the northwest portion of Pickerington and Violet Township."

Howard said library officials haven't yet identified precisely what those outreach efforts will entail, but they want to better serve residents in the northwest portion of their roughly 50,000-person service area.

"We are still evaluating data to determine what our best options are to meet our community's long-term needs," he said.

Issue 4 represents just the second levy in the library's 111-year history.

According to library officials , it will increase taxes from the $21.17 per $100,000 in home valuation people in the Pickerington Local School District currently pay, to $38.67 per $100,000 in home valuation beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Howard said without the levy, the library would've been forced to cut operating hours at one or both of its two branches.

He said reductions in staffing and the elimination of "some resources and services" would have been inevitable.

Now, Howard said, the library can maintain staffing and expand hours and services, as well as maintain and grow its catalog of materials and technology.

"Our strategic plan guides us to know and understand the community and to make intelligent data-driven decisions," he said.

"In 2018 and 2019, we have a customer-first focus.

"This means that we are looking at all aspects of the library to ensure we are not only spending public monies responsibly, but that our services meet the lifelong learning and enjoyment needs of our citizens."

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