Worthington, West Franklin to vote on tax increase for library

| Monday, May 13, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

During the May 21 primary election, residents of Worthington and West Franklin will get to vote on whether they approve a proposed 1-mill tax increase to support their public library.

With a 1-mill increase, according to a spokesman at the Armstrong County Assessment Office, residents would pay $1 for every $1,000 assessed.

That means a homeowner with property assessed at $25,000 would end up paying an extra $25 a year.

“We should support the library,” said Worthington resident Robin Toy.

She said the library not only helps facilitate childhood literacy, it also provides computer services to the public.

The Worthington-West Franklin Community Library rents a portion of a building at 214 E. Main St. for $800 a month from the Worthington/West Franklin Joint Parks and Recreation Authority.

Mark Hodak, a board member of the parks and recreation authority, said the library rents four rooms for $200 per room, which is about half of what the other tenants in the building pay.

Library Director Timi Kost said the library's rent will increase by $100 a month in January. Expenses are increasing while government funding decreases.

Over the adult collection area, a swollen ceiling tile sags, as a result of a water leak. and in the children's room the windows leak in rainy weather because of failing gaskets. The water cooler in the hall has been out of order for two years, Kost said.

Hodak said the authority raised $20,000, which was matched by Rosebud Mining Co., and the money was used to make improvements to the building's restrooms, gymnasium and parking lot. He said he and the other board members are aware of the leaks in the library and noted that the parks and recreation board meetings are proper venues to discuss the matter in more detail.

Kost said the library board has been looking for another building or a site to build a library because that would allow them to apply for government grants.

“We can't seek grants because we don't own the building,” Kost said.

Although active members and readers show the biggest support for the library, many people also use the facility's public computers for reasons including testing, homework, resumes, job applications and renewing licenses, Kost said.

It's a place for parents to bring children, for people to pick up tax forms, attend lectures and check out movies and reading material.

The presence of a library benefits the whole community, Kost said. It benefits even those who don't actively participate in library programs or services because it adds to real estate values and is an incentive for those considering relocation to the area.

She said she and the library board have been getting a high level of positive reaction and are optimistic that the outcome of the referendum will be positive as well.

“This is just going to be so fantastic. We've never had dependable, predictable funding,” Kost said. “It would mean a predictable revenue stream that would enable us to plan and budget.”

Signs of support dot many of the front yards in the area.

Kost said a citizen voiced concern to the library board about the cost of funding those signs.

But, according to Kost, all of the labor and material costs were covered by the vendor and donors.

However, not all the signs springing up express library support.

West Franklin resident Connie Fox plans to vote “no” to the referendum question.

“I don't feel that my tax dollars should go to support it,” Fox said. “I don't use it. It should be a little bit more self- sufficient. Let people who use it support it.

“I think the library is a thing of the past. I just can't see us paying more taxes,” she said.

Norm Grates, also of West Franklin, said he does not want to pay more taxes either.

“Close the library,” he said.

Kost said she knows that some people are worried about an increase in taxes and oppose supporting the library in the referendum.

“I encourage anybody with questions or resistance to the idea to stop by,” she said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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