Worthington Libraries to place 2.2 mill replacement levy on November ballot

Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 2:52 pm

At its June 10 meeting, the Worthington City Schools Board of Education voted to place a 2.2 mill permanent replacement levy on the November 5, 2013 ballot on behalf of Worthington Libraries.

If passed, it will replace the 22-year 2.2 mill library operating levy passed by voters in the Worthington School District in 1992. (Worthington Libraries was established as a school district public library in 1925. As such, the Worthington School District serves as the taxing authority for the Library, and the two entities share the same service boundaries.)

Worthington Libraries receives funding from the State of Ohio through the Public Library Fund (PLF). Although once a stable source of library revenue, the PLF has been reduced and/or frozen several times in the last 10 years. Despite an increase in use by residents, present PLF funding is currently equivalent to what the Library received in 1997. Support from the PLF accounts for 19 percent of the library's annual revenue, which totaled $10,282,788 in 2012.

In 2005, due in part to the decline in state funding, Worthington Libraries passed an additional 2.6 mill continuing operating levy. Collection of this levy accounts for 37 percent of the library's annual revenue.

In 1992, voters in the Worthington School District passed a 22-year 2.2 mill operating levy to support Worthington Libraries. This levy will expire in 2014. The first time the Library can seek a renewal or replacement of this levy is November 2013. Funding from this levy currently accounts for 22 percent of the library's annual revenue.

The library's seven-member board of trustees voted at their May meeting to proceed with a levy initiative in November 2013. James Hill, the president of the library board, stated, "We have one of the best library systems in the country. Funding from this expiring levy provides a significant source of income for Worthington Libraries. Because levy collection rates decline over time, it is currently being collected at an effective rate of 1.25 mills. Replacing this levy at 2.2 mills of current assessed property value will make it possible for the Library to maintain and expand services in order to meet increasing demand and keep up with changing technology."

Worthington Libraries is the ninth highest circulating library in the state, behind only the eight metropolitan library systems. It's one of only 30 libraries in the country to receive a five-star rating from Library Journal each year since 2009 and was the 2007 national Library of the Year. Library programs and events are attended by more than 60,000 people annually and user visits to all three locations (Old Worthington Library, 820 High St.; Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road; Worthington Park Library, 1389 Worthington Centre Dr.) topped 1.6 million in 2012. More than 90,000 people are registered borrowers of Worthington Libraries.

The Library supports the education of children through early childhood literacy programming, summer reading programs and after-school homework assistance. It encourages lifelong learning through book discussion groups, author visits and other programs. The business community benefits from the library's market research tools and people who are not physically able to visit the Library can have books delivered to their residence.

If the levy passes, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay an additional $3.12 each month or $37.44 annually.

The levy issue will be on the November 5 ballot and voters in the Worthington school district, which has the same boundaries as the Worthington library district, can vote on the issue. This includes residents in the City of Worthington, Riverlea and parts of Sharon Township, Perry Township and the City of Columbus.

The levy campaign committee will be chaired by Elizabeth Sommer and Lynn Nadler, two former library trustees, and Rick Bradley, president of the Friends Foundation of Worthington Libraries. The campaign treasurer will be Dan Lacey, a current member of the library board.

Additional information can be found online at: worthingtonlibraries.org/levy. Please contact Worthington Libraries Director Chuck Gibson at 614-807-2601 with any questions.

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