Editor’s note: A gross misunderstanding of millage by our reporter resulted in vastly incorrect numbers being published in our July 21 edition. The Enterprise deeply apologizes for the error. Presented here is the story with corrected dollar amounts.
Librarians will ask voters to keep a 0.77-mill levy on the books — and add another 0.48 this November.
Cutbacks are forcing the Herrick Memorial Library to ask for more cash about a year earlier than expected, director Janet Hollingsworth said.
“Our first levy was back in 2007 and at that time we had begun losing funds with budget cuts,” she said. “Since that time we have lost about $175,000.”
The losses have shrunk the library’s budget from approximately $500,000 when Hollingsworth first arrived in 2003 to $325,000.
Passed in 2011, the existing levy doesn’t expire until next year but is being put on the ballot just in case it does not pass on its first attempt.
If renewed, the existing levy will generate $171,000 per year. The additional levy would bring in $113,000 more annually for a combined amount of $284,000.
All in all, taxpayers will be asked for about $16.80 more per year for every $100,000 worth of property owned. An $150,000 property would mean about $23 per year.
“We know the people out here in our area love us and they understand the importance of having a library in the community,” Hollingsworth said. “This levy will be used for the purchase of both material and digital materials.”
New digital materials means the library’s gained access to new databases, she said. They have included keyboard tutorials, GED programs, foreign language, and research programs ranging from elementary to college level.
“One of our most popular searches is ‘What tree is this?,’” she said. “We had about 20 really good tree identification books but they get taken out very quickly. New programs and databases help very much in alleviating this problem and consolidating all information into one place for students.”
The economic recession beginning in 2007 turned the original levy into a way of “just breaking even” instead of the additional funding it was intended to be, Hollingsworth said. Cuts in funding from the state and federal levels have compounded the budget problems even more.
This led to the library taking measures such as altering its operating times, reducing staff, and switching to energy efficient lighting and heating. At the same time, the library has helped residents file Social Security and unemployment paperwork, she said.
“In all of these cuts they’re sometimes hurting the very people they’re trying to help,” said Hollingsworth of continued funding cuts by the state. “When people apply for a Golden Buckeye card they don’t go to the office on aging or Social Security. They come to the library. We have the forms. We have to do that now because they’ve put it on us.”
Hollingsworth also said the Herrick Memorial Library is in a unique position of providing services for multiple villages and townships.
“If this town did not have a library, Oberlin would be the closest other option,” she said. “Our service area is 9,458 people. Everyone used to call us Wellington’s library but we’re much more than that. It would almost be fair to call us the southern Lorain County library.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise The Herrick Memorial Library will ask for an additional levy on top of a renewal this year.