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Wood BOE receives libraries report

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Board of Education Tuesday received an update on the Wood County Libraries system, a report officials say will now occur annually.

Brian Raitz, director of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library, spoke Tuesday concerning how the library is funded and how those funds are used.

Board President Rick Olcott said officials asked Raitz to make the presentation following some public comments concerning the library and the school board’s role in governing that entity.

Raitz said the library is a separate, nonprofit agency, and is not governed by the Wood County Board of Education. Two of the library governing board’s members are appointed by the Wood BOE, with two more coming from the Wood County Commission and one appointed by the city of Parkersburg.

“The library board has been running the library since 1967 when it was created by those three entities,” he said. “Before that, the library was run solely by Wood County Schools since 1905.”

Raitz said the library receives the majority of its funding from local property tax from the regular county levy, city levy, Wood County Schools excess levy, a county levy passed in 2012, and matching funds from the state. The library also uses grant money when available.

“I try to maintain cash on hand at the beginning of the fiscal year to cover 2-3 months of library expenses,” he said, due to the timing of certain revenue sources. The library also has a rainy day portfolio of about $1.77 million. That fund, Raitz said, has been accumulated for more than 30 years and is considered an emergency fund in the event of a catastrophic issue.

Raitz said the library has a $2.1 million bond debt from recent construction of a south Parkersburg library and renovations to the Emerson Avenue library.

Raitz said he hopes to address several more projects in the near future, including lower-level renovations to the Emerson library and purchase of a new bookmobile.

Raitz said officials are waiting to see whether the board votes to close Waverly Elementary School and then will work with officials to determine the future of the Waverly library, which is located in the center of the school campus. The school board will vote Oct. 23 on the possible closure of Waverly Elementary.

“The Waverly library is a question that is out there, and we’re just waiting on your cue,” he said. “Our plan is to continue at this point library operations through the year and the through the summer.”

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.

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