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Howland, Trumbull library system seek additional tax levies

By BOB COUPLAND

Staff writer

Howland officials are seeking funds to provide fire and emergency medical services in response to an increasing need in the community, and the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is seeking financial help for increased investments in library materials.

Those two levies seeking additional funds, as well as replacement levies in four townships and nine renewals across the county, will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Howland is seeking a 2.25-mill, five-year levy for providing fire and emergency medical personnel service. If approved, the levy will raise $950,000 annually. Fire Chief James Pantalone said if the levy passes, the owner of $100,000 home would pay approximately $86.36 per year.

Township trustees said the levy will help beef up the budget for the day-to-day needs of the department.

“With the loss of local government funds from the state, there has been less money to operate the fire department,” trustee chairman James LaPolla said.

Pantalone said the levy will help the fire department cover the increasing number of calls it takes and will help replace aging equipment that is becoming more expensive.

Pantalone said previously the fire department’s budget this year was rapidly approaching “ground zero.” The department is doing what it can to maintain services and equipment, he said. The department has seen a loss of $300,000 from the tangible personal property tax and also a decrease in millage and property valuation, he said.

Pantalone said the annual call volume has been rising, and Howland is the busiest fire department in the county.

“We have an increasing call volume and a decreasing budget,” Pantalone said.

He said the levy funds will help the department purchase a fourth ambulance to handle the increased call volume, increase staff at the Bolindale station to handle more calls there and maintain the services provided in other parts of the township.

l The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is asking voters to approve a 0.4-mill additional, continuous levy on the November ballot.

If approved by voters, the levy would generate $985,172 annually, which would go toward increased investment in library materials, including digital resources; improvements to the libraries’ facilities, HVAC systems and technology infrastructure; and construction of additional space at the main library for expanded programming for children and teens, and more community meeting space.

The levy will cost a family with a $100,000 home approximately $14 more per year, according to Warren-Trumbull County Public Library Director Jim Wilkins.

The library is facing increased costs associated with maintenance of aging facilities, equipping buildings with the infrastructure to support growing technology, and a need for more dynamic, flexible spaces.

Current projections show a deficit library budget as early as 2023 when library expenses will surpass income, necessitating possible cuts in library hours, staffing and services, and prohibiting building improvements, Wilkins said previously.

Library Board of Trustees President Karen Scher said, “Strong libraries are vital to our communities, and this will allow the library to make sure we have the resources in place to serve our customers.”

The library board began discussing the need for placing a levy on the ballot last fall, Scher said.

“State funding for Ohio’s libraries has been cut by more than $113 million since 2001, a 23 percent decrease with no adjustment for inflation,” Wilkins said. “This equates to a loss of about $1.2 million annually for the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. We have to make that loss up some other way so we can continue to provide the services people have come to rely on.”

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library already has a 0.4-mill continuing levy passed in 1995 and a 0.6-mill continuing levy passed in 2006.

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library includes libraries in Brookfield, Cortland, Howland, Liberty, Lordstown and Warren; a Bookmobile; Homebound Library Service and saw 572,728 visitors in 2018.

Replacement levies being sought include:

∫ Farmington — five-year, 0.5 mills for maintaining and operating cemeteries to generate $22,328 per year. Fiscal Officer Jay Allen said the replacement levy will be based on current valuation and be voted on by residents of Farmington Township and West Farmington village since the cemetery includes both township and village property. The levy being replaced was passed in 2014 and generates about $4,000 less than what the replacement will;

∫ Johnston — continuous 2 mills for providing ambulance and emergency medical service. Board of Elections Director Stephanie Penrose said the levy will generate $73,987 per year;

∫ Kinsman — five-year, 2 mills for general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridge. Penrose said the levy will generate $69,768 per year;

∫ Vernon — continuous 3 mills for providing and maintaining fire and emergency medical services. Trustee Chairman Walter Emrick said the replacement levy will bring the levy up to current valuation and raise approximately $83,884 annually for day-to-day needs of the fire department;

Renewal levies are:

∫ Champion — five years, 0.5 mills for providing and maintaining police protection;

∫ Eagle Joint Fire District — five years, 1 mill for building and equipment needs;

∫ Girard — five years, 3 mills for providing fire protection;

∫ Girard — five years, 1.2 mills for providing funds for collection and disposal of garbage and refuse;

∫ Gustavus — five years, 3 mills for providing ambulance and emergency medical service;

∫ Liberty — five years, 1.5 mills for providing and maintaining fire protection;

∫ Trumbull County — five years. 0.75 mills for providing and maintaining senior citizen services;

∫ Vienna — five years, 1 mill for general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges; and

∫ Warren Township — five years, 1 mill for general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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