December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Library levy would cost taxpayers more than publicized

ELYRIA — Campaign literature distributed by Citizens for Elyria Public Library to promote the Elyria library issue included incorrect figures in illustrating how much the levy will cost affected Lorain County taxpayers.

In initial stories, the group incorrectly quoted the cost of Issue 3 at less than $3 a month per $100,000 of home value. The accurate number is less than $6 per month for the same amount of home value.

The incorrect figures were repeated numerous times, including in news articles and editorials published by the Chronicle-Telegram, based on information provided by the citizens’ group.

Lyn Crouse, library director, said the error was hers. Issue 3 is a 1.9-mill continuing levy to replace two levies that will expire at the end of the year.

“It was a misinterpretation and it may well have been my fault,” she said. “I believe I misunderstood in what the county auditor said is a mill and millage. I really think it was me that interpreted it wrong, making the mathematical error.”

Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said the cost of the library levy is $66.50 a year per $100,000 of home value. Coming up with that figure is done with a simple math equation that works for all property tax issues.

It is 100,000 times 0.35 (the taxable rate) times 1.9 (or the millage) divided by 1,000.

Elyria property owners pay $66.50 a year now because they are already levied at 1.9 mills.

Taxpayers in LaGrange Township are being asked to pay 1.9 mills instead of the 0.8 mills they’ve been paying. The owner of a $100,000 home, who has been paying $24.48 per year, would pay $38.50 more, or $3.20 a month.

Taxpayers in Elyria Township, Penfield Township and part of Carlisle Township have not been paying for library services, so the 1.9 mills would be a new tax for them, costing about $66 a year for a home valued at $100,000.

The levy issue was complicated for the Elyria library long before this error. A state law that aimed to rid taxpayers of paying tax levies to two library districts affected the library.

The library system collects taxes from all property owners in Elyria, including those in the Midview school district. The property owners in the Midview district also are paying taxes for the Grafton-Midview Public Library.

The state’s solution was to define the library’s taxing boundaries and limit the Elyria library to collecting taxes in the Elyria and Keystone school districts.

Ronald Salo, of Elyria, was the resident who discovered the error. He called Snodgrass believing the figure was too low. Snodgrass confirmed the math was incorrect.

“We thank Mr. Salo for bringing this oversight to our attention,” Crouse said. “As librarians who are accustomed to checking and double-checking, we are embarrassed that we did not catch this error earlier. We are taking every opportunity to correct it.”

The levy campaign will issue a final mailing to residents next week with the correct cost.

Crouse said she can only hope the levy chances have not been jeopardized.

“For the people who support the library, hopefully this levy doesn’t affect that support,” she said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.