Oakwood voters are being asked March 17 to approve a 1.5-mill levy for the Wright Memorial Public Library that will go towards paying for the library’s operations.
If passed, the levy would cost property owners about $52 annually per $100,000 of assessed home value. The levy would generate $474,307 annually for the library.
Officials said the library — which has not had new tax revenue since 2009 — has cut costs, put off building maintenance, reduced staffing and sought private donations.
Director Kristi Hale says that property taxes to support Wright Library constitute 1.4% of Oakwood property owners’ total tax bill. Oakwood taxpayers do not support other library districts.
The levy would fund both long-term operations and essential repairs and improvements to the building, phased over time, and within the current footprint, according to Hale.
“Along with seeking tax support, the library is committed to raising private dollars for facility needs,” Hale said. “Philanthropy will be an important part of this process. Securing private grant monies along with state and local tax dollars is key to moving forward affordably.”
Costs of passing the levy and bringing in new funding was broached at the open forum discussions, as with any ballot initiative seeking new money, residents wanted to know if this levy will be cost effective.
Wright Library’s expenditures are expected to exceed revenues this year, and officials said they have put together a plan that will make every penny count.
“Starting in 2008, state funding to public libraries was cut,” Fulford said. “Back then, we received about $1.5 million, we’ve rebounded now to about $1.2 million. Levy funds will be used for operations as well as essential infrastructure repairs and replacements and some modest updates, phased over time without increasing the building’s footprint, which would improve comfort and usability for Oakwood’s library users.”
Research has also revealed that residents want the library to make its services more accessible to the elderly and disabled, as well as, make updates to its historic building, but to stay within the footprint of the current building, according to library officials.
“We have developed a long-range facility plan that will allow the library to continue the service that Oakwood expects,” Hale said. “Unfortunately we need some additional revenue in order to keep the library strong.”
She added, “This is not your grandmother’s library with a bunch of shushing librarians. Libraries have evolved across the country and here in Oakwood, and we are as relevant as ever.”
Hale said the Oakwood facility, per capita, is one of the most used libraries in the country.
“We ranked 19th out of 1,251 libraries nationwide in usage,” she said.
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