NEWBURY, Ohio — How much more does our local government want or need? It seems even though many of us are struggling to make ends meet, the system comes up with new ways to absorb our dwindling resources.
One example here in Geauga County Ohio would be the various tax levies which are on the November 2010 General Election Ballot. Here in Newbury township most of the services we still have such as fire department, schools, and public libraries use our tax dollars to keep services at levels which the residents have become accustomed to.
Personally I have a problem paying for schools where I have never had a child, and have no say in how they use the money. I have a problem with a public library system which seems to need more money even after cutting back. I have a problem with a fire department that wants more money to pay higher salaries when not long ago it was primarily a volunteer operation.
The one levy which grieves me the most is the Geauga County Public Library System Levy. I have personally used this system many times over the past 25 years and frankly the level of service does not seem to have changed much. They still have problems with their media locating systems such that they will put you on a wait list for a book then forget to contact you.
According to the “Save the Geauga Libraries” information the library levy is asking Geauga taxpayers to give them a Million Dollars per year to offset the funds that the State of Ohio has withdrawn. The cause of all this financial hardship stems from recent reductions in state funding which have dropped from $3,600,000 in year 2000, down another $1,218,000 over the past few years to $2,382,000. When the state started these reductions the library system responded by cutting back, and now they feel they need more property tax payers to bail them out.
Perhaps a full blown evaluation of the entire library system is in order? Perhaps the six facilities could be combined into 4 or even 3? Perhaps our public school and local college libraries could be combined with the public libraries so that residents could share them after school hours? In comparison Burton Library which is in the center of Geauga County has its own public library which is not part of the Geauga County public library system and they are not asking for more money this election, how is that possible?
Since state funding has diminished the library system is apparently crumbling under the weight of these funding issues. There are grants available to public libraries such as the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” which helps public libraries get new computer hardware. The primary stipulation is that you serve a population that has at least 10% of the people at poverty level, and Geauga County does not have that yet!
I am not saying they should be closed but at least if they want more taxpayer dollars they should be willing to investigate different measures to reduce their overall casts. Volunteers help keep many public entities afloat so why are there not more of these people working at these libraries?
There has to be some retired teachers or librarians who would love to be there helping people every day. This could help them cut some of their labor costs. What about using other public paid services for the ongoing maintenance they need done? The county has people who are paid to do maintenance works on other public facilities, why not share them as a resource? We are already paying them to work for us.
Could the library join forces with local companies that can help them? Have they even inquired about this? Or do they go forward expecting the money will come from somewhere? I for one would prefer to have some say in how this operation is run since it is my tax dollars they are asking for. Remember that even when it was heavily state funded, those were still my tax dollars at work as well.
So at this juncture I would say no to a tax levy that will raise my taxes based on property values without them first trying every possible avenue to create a better fiscal outlook.
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