ELYRIA — City Council gave the Elyria Public Library System the support it needed to place a 1.9-mill levy on the May ballot in a move Council President Mike Lotko called “a no-brainer.”
Library officials came to Council Monday hoping to convince city officials to act as the library’s taxing authority by placing the issue on the ballot and did not walk away disappointed. Council members unanimously voted to place the issue before voters.
Councilman Jack Baird, R-at large, who is a former library board member, said supporting the library is in the best interest of the city.
The levy will appear on the May ballot for voters in the Elyria and Keystone school districts, which includes Elyria Township, Penfield Township and the section of Carlisle Township that is in Keystone district. It will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 roughly $35 a year.
“We know we have a tough road and a lot of hard work ahead us,” said Library Director Lyn Crouse.
Crouse said the levy represents 50 percent of the library’s operating expenses and raises about $1.6 million annually. It pays for utilities, insurance, payroll and maintenance of the buildings.
“In November, your Issue 5 represented 20 percent of your budget,” Crouse said. “This represents 50 percent of our budget, so the stakes are very high.”
The issue will be especially challenging for the Elyria library. A state law forced the library to redefine its boundaries and the library lost a swatch of heavily supportive voters in the process.
Library officials know it will be hard to make up those votes — especially since new areas they will have to seek support in have never voted for a library levy in the past.
Elyria voters already are taxed at 1.9 mills for the library. For residents of LaGrange and LaGrange Township, the levy will be an increase. They now pay 0.8 mills toward the library operation.
However, for residents in Elyria and Penfield townships and a portion of Carlisle Township, this will be a new levy. Those residents have not paid anything for library services before.