Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Coldwater library board seeks first levy
Officials cite large state funding cuts as reason for need
By Doug Drexler
COLDWATER - Substantial cuts in state funding are forcing the Coldwater Public Library board members to seek the library's first-ever tax levy.
"The library's never had one as far as I know," library board vice president Paul Howell said at Monday's Coldwater Village Council meeting.
The library receives 96 percent of its funding from the state, fiscal director Jane Bruggeman said. She and Howell attended the meeting to ask village council members to approve putting a 0.5-mill, five-year levy on the November ballot. The village operates as the library's fiscal agent.
The tax would collect $68,353 per year and cost the owner of a $100,000 property $17.50 annually. Homeowners in the library district, the same territory as the school district, would pay the tax.
"Our expenses are already overrunning our income," Bruggeman said, adding the library is operating off its reserves, which would run out in 2015 without the levy.
Howell said cutting hours and services would upset people and probably wouldn't be enough to balance the budget, and residents have come to depend on those services. The library's summer programs and adult e-reader are especially popular, he said.
The library's state funding has decreased from a high of $256,789 in 2007 to $198,700 in 2013, according to figures supplied by the library board. The projection for next year is $193,357.
The levy would basically restore the 2007 funding levels, Bruggeman said. He noted money raised for the library at the Coldwater Community Picnic goes toward capital improvements, not operating expenses.
Council members supported the idea of putting the levy on the ballot and asked the library board to get final ballot wording to council in time to make the Aug. 6 filing deadline.
Council members also,
• approved allowing finance director Clyde Bellinger to put village funds in the state's new StarPlus program. The program offers higher rates of return than the Star Program, but has tighter rules about withdrawing funds, Bellinger said. The village has few options to earn higher interest since many banks don't want to deal with restrictions on government funds, he said.
• approved entering a contract with Payment Services Network to collect village utility bills online. Bellinger said the current processor charges customers $4.95 per transaction. PSN would charge $1 per check or 2.75 percent per credit card transaction, he said. PSN would also move money to village accounts more quickly and make data entry easier. He hopes to begin testing PSN's program in September and have it fully functional at the beginning of next year, he said.
• heard fellow council member Don Ahrens talk about the recent trash pickup days. The village paid $8,464 to have Klenke's pick up 30,066 pounds of trash in 2014 and $9,147 to pick up 28,058 pounds in 2013, according to village figures. Ahrens said the money comes from a surcharge on village trash bags.
• heard from village administrator/engineer Eric Thomas that work on the solar field at the sewage treatment plant is progressing. However, he said one batch of solar panels had been recalled, and panel installation had been delayed two to three weeks. Underground electrical work is still going on, he said. The field should be supplying electricity by the end of August.
• heard Thomas say residents in Greenland Estates had written a letter complaining about the condition of a neighbor's fence. Council members gave Thomas permission to contact the resident about the fence and then report back to them.
• heard Thomas say Affordable Gas and Electric, which is to operate the village gas and electric aggregation programs, should have its Public Utilities Commission of Ohio operating certificates in hand within the next few days. Thomas noted both gas and electric costs have dropped recently, so it should be a good time to get prices for the village's new contracts.