The Wauseon Public Library will look to voters this November to again renew a 1.0-mill operating levy.
First placed on the ballot a decade ago, the five-year levy generates $199,314 annually for materials, supplies, the payment of utilities, and general maintenance.
Library Director Maricela DeLeon said should the levy fail on the Nov. 2 ballot it could possibly be reintroduced during May 2022 elections. In any case, the library would be forced to tighten its purse strings, she said.
“At that point we would definitely watch our spending a little closer,” DeLeon said. “We’ve always been pretty financially responsible. But we would have to sit down and definitely make a better budget plan if it were to fail.”
Fortunately, the library at 117 E. Elm St. is not currently in a position in which staff cuts would have to be made, “but we wouldn’t be hiring, that’s for sure,” DeLeon said. The facility also would not have to cut business hours.
The hardest hit area would be the purchase of new and current materials for the public.
DeLeon said this year was exceptional for the library due to its receipt of two COVID grants – a $25,000 federal grant and an additional $3,000 state grant. She said, however, those grants are reserved specifically for COVID cleaning and safeguarding supplies and don’t supplement the 1.0 mill renewal levy being requested.
In fact, the COVID funding has nearly been depleted by the purchase of ultraviolet book and room sanitizers. DeLeon said the book sanitizer alone eliminated the library’s practice of quarantining loaned materials in a sealed room for up to a week after their return to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
The government COVID funds will also pay for digital signage to be placed at the library’s entrance and behind the front desk, eliminating the need for bulletin boards handled by the public.
DeLeon said the library board of trustees plan to meet to devise a public campaign touting the levy renewal.
“I think the library gets great support for what we offer,” she said. “We do a wonderful business as far as offering the Internet. We are still in that group borrowing from other libraries, and we hope that wouldn’t get cut.”
DeLeon said the community understands the importance and value of a public library, “especially after this rough year that we’ve gone through.”
Library Board of Trustees President Marc Matheny said renewing the levy is vital.
“The operational money is necessary. We did suffer with COVID as far as revenue,” he said. “It did hit us in our pocket book and our bottom line, so if the levy does fail it would be detrimental. We have a very top-notch library, very well-respected. I’d have to see anything go against that.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.