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Libraries open book on new revenue

Tom Jackson • Nov 25, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Checking out library books is still free, but the free ride for some taxpayers receiving library services is coming to an end.

A state law approved last year requires an adjustment to library district boundaries — and the tax base — to reflect all the communities served by that library district.

As a result, taxpayers in Put-in-Bay and Danbury Township who have been receiving library services but were not previously taxed for the service will have to pay the library property tax levies that support the services.

Margaretta Township taxpayers also will likely be asked to pay for the Sandusky Library levy.

Ohio lawmakers passed Omnibus Bill 321 last year to end unusual double-taxation situations in certain areas of the state. For example, small areas in the city of Fostoria were paying taxes to support both the Fostoria Public Library and the Tiffin-Seneca County Public Library.

But lawmakers also took the opportunity to make other changes to laws they believed were antiquated, said Deborah Loiacono, director of Port Clinton’s Ida Rupp Public Library.

One result is that Ida Rupp is no longer a county extension library, a designation lawmakers abolished. Instead, it’s now a school district library, serving school districts in Port Clinton, Danbury, Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass Island and South Bass Island.

The library operates a branch in Put-in-Bay, but residents of South Bass Island don’t pay a library levy. Ida Rupp’s service area includes Danbury Township, which gets services such as homebound book deliveries, book drops and library programming.

Danbury Township residents don’t pay a library levy, either. Currently, the only local support is provided by taxpayers who live in the Port Clinton school district. That’s supplemented by money the library receives from the state.

The Port Clinton library levy may soon be coming from the rest of the library district, too. The library has been making tentative plans to go out for a levy next year. Details will be announced later.

State money received by the Sandusky Library has been supplemented by a property tax levied in Sandusky, Perkins Township and Kelleys Island, which has a branch library staffed by volunteers. But residents of Margaretta Township, also part of the service area, don’t pay the tax.

“We haven’t gotten a chance to look at what this means to us,” said Julie Brooks, director of Sandusky Library, referring to the new law.

But she said the next time the library puts a levy on the ballot, it will likely include Margaretta Township.

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