(Canton, Ohio) – The Stark County Library District is looking to voters on November 6th for approval of an 8-year additional 2.2 mills, current expenses levy.
According to Mary Ellen Icaza, Stark Library CEO/Executive Director, the levy is critical to the operation of the organization. “Each year, Stark Library serves almost 2 million visitors, circulating more than 4 million items,” she said. “We also provide vital services to the community that promote early literacy, serve those who are seeking to improve their position in the workforce and allow access to free public-use computers and high-speed internet for those who may not have the resources at home. Our Mobile Service vehicles – like the bookmobile – bring the Library to 220,000 visitors who might not otherwise have access to library services.”
She added that more than half of Stark Library’s funding comes from the local property tax levy with the remaining funds provided by the State of Ohio’s Public Library (PLF). “Over the last decade, PLF funding has decreased by 17%, which represents more than a $2.8 million decrease per year. Issue 4 will allow us to continue to provide these vital services to Stark County residents.”
If approved, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $29 per year, generating approximately $3 million annually. Icaza explained the dollars would be invested in expanding library series.
“For example, our StartSmart School Partnership is currently available in only three of the nine school districts in Stark County and we would like to expand that,” said Icaza. “Our one-on-one services help to provide necessary skills to the workforce, like job search resources, resume writing assistance, and basic computer skills training. Expanding these services will help us reach more individuals, preparing them for the job market, helping to strengthen Stark County.”
Icaza added that a portion of the money generated from the levy would be spent on books and eMaterials. The remainder of the money would a be used to invest in buildings. “Seven of our nine branches are more than 15 years old and are in need of maintenance on wear-and-tear items like roofs and HVAC systems,” said Icaza. “Carpet and furniture are aging and are in need of replacement. In addition, strategic investments related to building safety, preventative maintenance, and energy efficiency will create operational efficiencies and enable the library to reap long-term savings. Many of our older buildings require technology updates to ensure patron access to current technologies and enable our staff to serve our patrons more effectively.”
The last levy request from the Stark Library, a 1.7 mill levy, was passed in 2012. “Being relatively new to Stark County, I have been so impressed by the Stark Library system and how we serve our community,” added Icaza. “Our branches tailor programming to their neighborhoods and collaborate with nearby organizations to serve the needs of their local communities.”
She noted that without passage of the levy, Stark Library would lose more than half of its operating budget, and would be forced to make cuts in services, technologies, and collections. The current levy expires at the end of 2019 and if Issue 4 passes, it would replace the current levy.
Additional information on Issue 4 can be found here.