Supporters of Sunbury's Community Library and the village's transition to cityhood went home happy on Election Night -- and looking forward to the challenges to come.
Sunbury-area voters roundly approved two ballot issues Nov. 5: the village's first charter and renewal of a 1-mill property-tax levy for the library.
The charter is needed, Sunbury officials have said, because they expect the village to become a city after the 2020 census. By Ohio law, a village automatically becomes a city when it has 5,000 residents.
The charter will act as a "constitution" for Sunbury, defining its roles and responsibilities -- particularly after it becomes a city.
The proposal passed easily, 822 votes (82%) to 175 (18%), according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
The Community Library's renewal of a 1-mill property-tax levy on the ballot was approved 3,915 votes (70%) to 1,702 votes (30%), according to the board of elections.
Chauncey Montgomery, director of the library, 44 Burrer Drive, said the levy will cost homeowners about $31 annually per $100,000 of property value. That's the same rate at which the levy first was collected in 2009.
"With the levy renewal being approved, I'm looking forward to continuing to serve the community and meeting the needs of the community," Montgomery said.
The levy will last through 2024, he said, and during that time, the library must focus on growth.
As the community grows, he said, library leaders must ask: "How can we best utilize our resources to meet that growth? ... How can we take what we have and stretch it so we have the same impact when people come into the area?
"That's one thing we'll be looking at," Montgomery said.
The library has a strong youth program, he said, and hopes to boost its programming for teens. As more young families move to the area, he said, the library needs to ensure its children's programming keeps pace.
Montgomery also said the library serves a growing population of older residents via what he described as a joint effort of the library staff and volunteers.
The library delivers books to both homebound seniors and facilities that serve seniors, he said. Groups of books are delivered to each and replaced with other books each month, he said, and volunteers help gather the books and help make deliveries.
"While I've been campaigning for the levy renewal, the thing that impressed me the most was hearing from the community about the ways the library has played a role in their lives," Montgomery said.
"That means more to me than anything: the impact the library has on families," he said. "That's what we're here for. Hearing those stories gives me the confidence we are doing the right things."
The Community Library's official service area has the same boundaries as the Big Walnut Local School District.
Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said he was excited about the passage of the village's charter.
"While it will be early 2021 before Sunbury will know the results of the census ... the charter commission chose to write our charter in such a way that Sunbury will actually be adopting the charter Jan. 1, 2020," he said.
Hatfield said Sunbury Village Council anticipated the issue would pass and began putting together a committee before the election to work with administrators. That committee, he said, will start meeting in January to implement plans.
"While we do not expect drastic changes come January, we will implement the framework that was put together by the charter commission," he said.
"There will be much to do between now and January to start the process of implementing the charter. ... We will work to keep the community updated on the progress of the charter implementation on the Sunbury website, sunburyohio.org," Hatfield said.
He said he appreciated the hard work of the charter commission, whose members were elected by voters in November 2018.
"The charter commission was truly a microcosm of how our government should work," Hatfield said. "This was a group of diverse residents with one goal, and that was to put our community on the right path to becoming a city.
"These will be exciting times for Sunbury," he said. "We are truly blessed to live in a community with great opportunities in front of us."
Hatfield referenced the village's slogan -- "Small Town, Big Ideas, Perfect Balance" -- and said those ideas will be the "trick" to the community's continued success.
"We all love the town we have, and many of us would love to see it stay the same, but I know that can't be," he said. "If I have learned anything in my 54 years, there is no staying the same.
"We have to work together to keep the values we have, the great community, and still create opportunities for us to thrive in the future," he said.