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Library levy before Medina County voters

4/20/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

MEDINA — Voters in Granger and Sharon are among those who will be asked to weigh in on a renewal and increase of the Medina County District Library (MCDL) operating levy in the May 2 Primary/Special Election.

Issue 8 is a proposed renewal of the 1.25-mill existing levy and an additional 0.25 mill. The levy currently brings in about $4.9 million for the library system, and if passed, the increase would add another $783,000 to cover current expenses, according to library officials.

Community Engagement Manager Tina Sabol said voters originally approved the levy in 1992 for five years. It was renewed for 10 years in 1997 and again in 2007.

For the owner of property valued at $100,000, the levy currently costs $36 annually. With the renewal and increase, it would cost $45. Collection of the levy at that amount would begin in 2018. The levy is for a 10-year period.

Sabol added the levy currently makes up 60 percent of the library system’s budget. MCDL also receives state funding, with the most recent amount about $3.4 million. That number has been decreasing in recent years, Sabol said.

“In 2008, just a few months after we began collection on the current levy, the state cut our funding by $873,000 overnight,” she said. “That’s more than what we’re asking for in additional millage. We have recovered some of that, but we’re still at $363,000 less in state funding than in 2008.”

The levy and increase will help the library system continue to keep up with technology, Sabol said.

“Compared to even 10 years ago, technology is so much more a part of our lives,” she said.

The district just became part of the fiber network in Medina County, which should alleviate the problem of slow interconnectivity that was typical when many users logged on at once in library locations, Sabol said.

The library has also put an increased focus on partnering with schools as part of a United Way of Medina County effort to address early literacy.

Sabol said a community assessment conducted by the United Way in 2013 showed the county could do better on early literacy. The United Way asked the library to partner on programming to address the issue, such as more story times for young children.

As for the schools, Sabol said parents and teachers are asking for more science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — programming.

“We’ve really been stepping up to provide those programs,” she said, adding there are waiting lists for the popular programs at the district’s libraries.

Sabol said the library system’s bond issue, which funded construction of new library branches, is set to expire in 2023, so that will no longer be on the tax bill for Medina County residents halfway through the next levy cycle. The district built new buildings and renovated existing sites from 2003 to 2008, she said, including the Highland Branch Library, located on Ridge Road in Granger. In total, the district has seven branches, which includes outreach services housed in the Buckeye Branch Library.

Should the levy not pass in May, Sabol said the district would likely go back on the ballot again later this year.

A campaign is underway to promote the levy. More information is available at votefor mcdl.org.

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