Mahoning library system seeks new tax with lower total

YOUNGSTOWN- Mahoning County residents will be able to lower their taxes while supporting the library system in November.

The county commissioners last week agreed to place a five year, 2.4-mill levy for general operations of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County on the November ballot. The levy will combine the current levies of 1 mill and 1.8 mills- an overall reduction of .4 mills- and generate $9.3 million annually.

In order to maintain homeowner roll back savings, though, the levy will be referred to as a “renewal and increase” of the 1.8-mill levy. The taxpayer saves money when the 1-mill levy expires at the end of the year.

The current levies cost homeowners $86 per $100,000 of valuation. The new levy will cost $76 per $100,000.

Monies generated by the levy will be used for general operation line items such as salaries, library materials, programs, supplies and maintenance of the system’s 15 branches, including Sebring and Greenford.

According to information provided on the library’s website, library levy proceeds amounted to 57 percent of receipts in 2013. The other main source of library funding is the state’s Public Library Fund (PLF), which amounted to 41 percent of library receipts in 2013. The library has experienced a 30 percent reduction in PLF funding from 2001 to 2013; funds for Mahoning County libraries decreased from $10.8 million in 2001 to $7.6 million in 2013.

The library, however, operates debt-free through good fiscal stewardship. Building projects are done in accordance with long-range plans going back over 15 years. Money is saved for construction projects which saves the library and the taxpayer money in interest charges because financing is not required.

The library board and administration believe this levy will meet the library’s financial needs for providing quality library service, barring any drastic cuts in state funding, while affording some relief to taxpayers. Lowering taxes for homeowners was a priority for the library and was possible because funds have been accumulated and earmarked for building projects in the strategic plan and large construction projects will be coming to an end.