NILES - Supporters of the McKinley Memorial Library hope voters will understand its need for more money and support a 1.5-mill levy on Election Day.
The levy is expected to raise $391,000 a year for the next five years. It would be used to resume the majority of services the library has been reducing over the last two years. The Trumbull County Auditor's Office said the tax would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $45.94 in property taxes.
"A couple years ago we had a budget of about $1.1 million," library Director Patrick Finan said. "Next year, we are projecting a $700,000 budget."
The library receives the majority of its funding from the state, which - due to its own budget woes - has been reducing funding to public libraries statewide.
Finan estimates the state will have an $8 billion budget shortfall next year, and he expects state funding to libraries to continue to erode.
"We've lost about 30 percent of our library funding in the last several years," he said.
To adjust to less state money, Finan said the library staff has been reduced from 17 full-time employees to 10, is closed on Sundays and Wednesday evenings, has eliminated some programs and has reduced material spending from $280,000 a year to about $100,000 a year.
"We are purchasing fewer books, newspapers, magazines and other materials," Finan said. "We have put off purchasing new computers for public use."
If the levy campaign is successful, Finan expects to put more money into buying books, DVDs, CDs, newspapers, magazines and other popular materials. The library also would begin looking at purchasing one or two more public use computers, and, beginning in January, would stay open on Wednesday evenings.
"We've seen a reduction in the amount of funds we are receiving at a time when library use has been increasing," he said. "We are experiencing more people using our computers for their job searches and to contact friends and relatives."
About 137 out of 251 of the state's public library systems currently have local levies to help support them, according to Ohio Library Council.
"We know of 35 public library levy issues and one bond issue that are on the November ballot," Mackenzie Betts of the Ohio Library Council said.
The majority, 29 library systems, are asking voters for new money. The remainder are asking voters to pass additional or replacement levies.
Locally, Girard Free Library and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County are asking voters for additional help.
"In Trumbull County, three of seven libraries - Hubbard, Warren-Trumbull and Newton Falls - already have passed operating levies," he said.