By DAVID GREEN
Fayette’s Normal Memorial Library board intends to ask voters to approve a 0.75-mill levy next May in an effort to restore a portion of the cuts in service made last month.
Due to funding problems at the state level, allocations to libraries fell by about 30 percent. Like most libraries in Ohio, Fayette’s board of directors responded by cutting back on the hours of operation.
In mid-September, hours were reduced from 49 to 29, with evening hours only once a week and no Saturday hours.
Since the library is a school district library, permission to seek a levy must first be obtained from the Fayette Board of Education.
Library board vice president Mike Figgins explained to the school board Monday night how funding cuts are affecting the facility.
Revenue a year ago came in at $152,500. For 2009, cuts made for the final quarter of the year dropped revenue to $119,000, and the projection for next year stands at $111,250. The library’s fund balance might shrink as low as $15,500.
The library board aims to ask approval of a five-year, 0.75-mill operating levy in the May 2010 election. If approved, the first collection from the levy would arrive in May 2011. The levy would bring in about $30,000 annually and cost a typical homeowner less than $15 a year, Figgins said.
“That still won’t make up everything,” Figgins said, “but it will allow us to add some hours.”
He’s hoping the state will restore some level of funding.
Library director Sally Canfield told the board that the reduction in hours makes it difficult for many patrons to make use of the library’s services. In tough economic times, in particular, the availability of internet service is important for job searching and for those who can no longer afford to pay for an internet connection at their home.
If the levy passes, board member Kirk Keiser asked, what would be restored?
Canfield said the most likely choice would be to schedule Saturday hours again.
Board president Paula Schaffner asked if the library had sought a levy in the past. Fiscal officer Irene Fether said this would be the first time.
The school board must decide whether or not to approve the request no later than 75 days prior to the election.