Plunging land values take toll on library

Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise Herrick Memorial Library director Janet Hollingsworth stands with one of the prize baskets adults in the summer reading program can win.

An early renewal levy might be needed to keep the Herrick Memorial Library in the black.

Money is stretched tight at the Main Street library and operating hours have already been reduced to help reduce the strain.

Now director Janet Hollingsworth believes the Herrick board of trustees will move to seek a renewal before the levy already on the books expires in 2017.

“The current levy is not bringing in the amount money we were told it would generate,” she said.

Declining property values are taking a toll. When the levy last passed, it was kicking in $165,000 per year.

Each passing year brings in less.

At the same time, the library received only $300,000 from the state in 2015 — the lowest it’s been in nearly two decades.

Along with the renewal, Hollingsworth is also considering requesting an additional levy to make up for the lost funding.

“We would like to keep them separate because we cannot lose that renewal,” she said. “A little bit of money is better than no money and they could end up saying no.”

Library trustees don’t have many options for more cuts in an already-strapped budget.

“Right now the only thing we can actually take it from is from our book budget, our materials budget,” she said. “And you have to have books. You have to have videos. You have to have the music and things.”

Despite the money troubles, the library is still able to have its summer reading programs for children, teenagers, and adults.

Hollingsworth said the adult and teen programs are somewhat impacted by cash flow problems because of the library’s shortened hours, but the children’s program is not affected.

Funding from the Friends of the Herrick Memorial Library is a big reason why summer reading and other programs have been able to continue.

The LMRE People Fund also helps support the teen program and the Stocker Foundation is helping fund the children’s program.

“Budget-wise for those things, and they can only be used for those things, we’re doing all right other than we have one person who has to do everything for the children,” Hollingsworth said.

Students from Wellington High School will volunteer at the library throughout the summer to help with the children’s program and to fill a new community service requirement made by the school district.

Hollingsworth said the library is also waiting to hear exactly how much funding it will receive from the state in the much-anticipated and oft-feared Ohio biennial budget, due July 1.

Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.