The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

Brumback, Vantage seek levy renewals

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

There are a number of local issues on the November 3 general election ballot, with the Brumback Library’s 0.5-mill, five-year renewal levy and Vantage Career Center’s 0.7-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy renewal two of the most important local issues on the ballot.

Election artwork 11-6-12For 114 years, Brumback Library, the first county public library in the United States, has been providing quality services to the residents of Van Wert County and surrounding area. The library, which strives to meet the research, informational, and recreational reading needs of the public, has also faced economic challenges since 2001, when a series of funding freezes and cuts in what is now known as Ohio’s Public Library Fund forced the library to look for other sources of funding.

Like most Ohio public libraries, Brumback Library receives a majority of its funding (82 percent) from the Public Library Fund, and, thus, has been placed in a vulnerable financial position by changes to that fund over the past 15 years.

While other libraries have been forced to drastically cut service hours and lay off staff, Brumback Library has balanced its budget through staff budget cuts, including Director John Carr taking five voluntary salary cuts. In fact, Carr has voluntarily frozen his salary at a reduced level through 2022.

Operating schedules were trimmed a bit and fewer new print and non-print materials were purchased, while computer hardware and software purchases were made on an as-needed basis only. Programming and outreach efforts were also curtailed somewhat.

Meanwhile, at a time when many libraries are having a hard time finding patrons, Brumback Library is busier than ever, with demand for library services greatly increased over the last decade.

An average of more than 5,000 people visit the library weekly, while the library’s circulation of more than 850,000 items makes it the sixth largest library system in northwest Ohio.

Some of the services the library provides include the following:

  • Over 1,200 story times are offered each year
  • More than 1,000 annual visits to area preschools and elementary schools
  • More than 12,000 people attend programs at the library each year
  • Outreach services are provided to more than 300 homebound county residents
  • More than 19,000 people access the Internet at one of the library’s six locations every year

Renewal of the library levy would provide a measure of financial security to one of the county’s most-used public entities, while also allowing Brumback Library to provide more service hours, staff, books, and other services.

The half-mill levy, which was passed initially and renewed by an overwhelming majority of voters, is part of the library’s original operating agreement with the county in 1898. The original levy was collected from 1901 to 1934 and then suspended during the Great Depression.

The current levy was originally approved by 74 percent of voters in 2005 and renewed in 2010 by an even greater majority (83 percent).

“To honor our past, to insure stability in funding, and to plan for the future, it is imperative that the library levy be approved,” said Joan Stripe, president of the Brumback Library Board of Trustees.

The cost of the levy is minimal: $8.60 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home in Van Wert County. That’s less than the cost of a meal at most local restaurants.

Also on the November 3 general election ballot is Vantage Career Center’s 0.7-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy.

The levy is crucial to Vantage’s operation. Money generated is allocated to specific funds for the replacement and repair of equipment, mechanical operating systems, parking lot re-sealing, preventive maintenance, and furnishings with at least a five-year life expectancy.

The levy brings in $559,947 a year and pays a huge portion of the expenses required for the upkeep of Vantage’s modern facility. In addition, the completely renovated and expanded Vantage facility, completed in 2013 and co-funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission, requires setting aside $225,000 annually specifically for permanent improvement projects to maintain the facility.

Again, the cost is minimal for residential property owners. The owner of a $100,000 home pays only $9.57 per year.

Since both the Brumback Library and Vantage issues are renewals, approving the issues will not mean new taxes for county taxpayers.

A story on the Ohio State University Extension levy renewal and several fire protection and operating levies will be in Friday’s independent.

POSTED: 10/28/15 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: News