"We're at the point where we're not buying anything and we have a skeleton crew," Newcomerstown Public Library Director Linda Hren said. "I don't know where else we're going to cut."
In order to restore services, hours, personnel, etc., the Newcomerstown Library Board of Trustees has placed a five-year, 2.5-mill replacement levy for operating expenses of the Newcomerstown Public Library on the Nov. 2 ballot. This levy replaces a 1-mill levy that was first passed in 1985.
The replacement levy will cost the owner of a $50,000 home, $3.19 per month and generate approximately $198,762 each year for the library.
"This will restore funding for the library to about the level of funding the library received in 2007," Hren said.
Since 2002 library funding has slowly declined and the library absorbed the loss in funding by reducing spending. At the same time, the library's 1-mill operating levy also generated less funds each year. In 2009, the state legislature imposed deeper cuts in library funding to help balance the state budget.
"As a result, in 2010 the library will receive $114,000 less than it received in 2008," Hren said. "This loss in funding has forced the library to cut hours and services, lay off staff, cancel half the periodical subscriptions and stop purchasing new materials.
The funding crisis is not over, Hren said. The State of Ohio faces an estimated $8 billion budget deficit in 2011.
"It's unrealistic that they won't cut libraries again. I don't know how we'll make it if the levy fails," she said.
She said if the levy fails and state funding is cut, it could be detrimental for Newcomerstown. The possible cuts to help the library stay open could result in being open 2 to 3 days a week, more lay offs, cancel more magazine subscriptions, stop library-to-library loan because they couldn't pay the $5,000 cargo service fee required, no more new items being purchased, and possibly selling the Library Annex.
Hren said selling the Library Annex would only help one year's budget. It wouldn't generate the yearly revenue like the passage of a tax levy would.
"If it failed, we'd be looking at closing and losing the library," Hren said about the worse case scenario.
However, if the levy is approved by voters, plans for the library include: Restore morning, evening and Saturday hours; restore three staff positions; expand programming for children and adults (including additional pre-school story hours, adult programs and computer classes); resume purchasing materials in all formats (including large print, audio books, e-books and DVDs); re-instate 50 percent of magazine subscriptions canceled due to recent cuts; purchase databases accessible from home computers; replace outdated computers and equipment; and maintain and repair building and grounds.
Hren said once the levy is approved, funds will not be available until 2012 when the levy is officially collecting revenue. However, she said items such as extended hours, more programs, etc. will start to return next year because they know more funding is on the way from the levy.
The library levy committee will be waiting and watching the results on election night, Nov. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m.
"Hopefully, it will end up being a party," Hren said.