Library renewal levy passes easily

By Tom Corrigan -

“Of course, were very excited about the support of the community, that’s the first thing,” said Paige Williams, executive director of the Portsmouth public library system.

Voters approved the library’s 1 mill renewal levy 6,919 for to 3,193 against, meaning the levy won approximately 86 percent of the vote, according to final but unofficial results from the Scioto County Board of Elections.

For a homeowner or business with property valued at $100,000, the library levy costs $2.92 monthly, or just over $35 annually.

“Mostly, we encourage people to come in get a library card and make good use of the services they pay for,” Williams said.

Originally passed in 2010, the levy accounts for approximately 33 percent of the library’s annual budget of approximately $3.5 million. Most of that, about 70 percent or $2.2 million, comes from the state of Ohio. An additional hundred $50,000 comes from fines, fees, and donations.

While Williams talked a lot about expanding library programs and keeping current programs in place, she also talked about some renovation needs at the main library in Portsmouth as well as some of the branch libraries in towns around the area. Williams specifically mentioned needing to replace the boiler system at the main library at a cost of about $250,000. She noted the library has spent about $750,000 rehabilitating the main library and its branches. Information supplied by the library notes the Portsmouth Carnegie building dates back to 1906.

According to information released prior to the levy, funds will go towards things such as the following: continue to expand library services and digital resources; upgrades to branch buildings; continue to expand all collections; and, keep technology up to date.

For the future, Williams also noted one big program the system is attempting to take on would help persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The program would offer both those suffering from those conditions as well as their care-givers music and craft programs. She further mentioned potential increases in senior citizen programming, noting the aging of the local population.

Williams stated library board initially decided to ask voters to approve a local levy after the state slice funding by one third in 2009. The cuts forced the Portsmouth library to reduce staff by 17 people, cut hours and make other unpopular or uncomfortable budget adjustments.

If the renewal levy had failed, Williams said as the current levy actually does not expire until December 31, 2020 the library system would have had chances in May and November to again take their case to voters before any cuts such as happened in 2010 might have had to be made.

By Tom Corrigan

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.