PARKERSBURG - The Parkersburg and Wood County Public Libary's five-year levy passed on Tuesday as it squeaked by with just enough support.
"I am pleased that we got the levy," said library executive director Brian Raitz. "I will have a nice, restful sleep tonight."
The levy needed 60 percent to pass and received 60.9 percent, or 19,331 votes, with 39.1 percent of voters opting against it.
Photo by Jolene Craig
About 40 supporters of the south Parkersburg branch of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library gathered in the small building during a rally.
"It doesn't matter by how much it passed, just that it passed," Raitz added.
Over the next five years, the levy is expected to generate $2,273,500 with an annual cost of $6.48 on a residence valued at $100,000, while the tax on an $80,000 home will be $5.18.
Raitz said funding for the library has been flat for the past three years and the facility has had to cut services to stay afloat.
"The levy funds will allow us to do more," he said.
Funds generated by the levy will go to build a larger facility in south Parkersburg as well as operate this new building while making other improvements to the branches.
Right now the south branch has one employee that works 35 hours a week, but a larger facility will require more hours and people.
Part of the funds generated from the levy will be used as a match to construct a 5,000- to 10,000-square-foot facility to allow the book collection to grow, make room for additional computers, add seating, parking, meeting rooms and a dedicated children's librarian.
The current branch was built in 1972 and is a small at 1,200 square feet.
Along with plans for a larger south library, the funds will also go to move the entrance of the Emerson library from Emerson Avenue to the side parking lot for increased accessibility; add weekend hours at Williamstown and south side; reinstate cut hours for Waverly and the bookmobile; increasing sharing of materials with Vienna Library and Wood County schools; increase staff dedicated to children's services and contribute to the general operation of the library.
With this new levy, the library will go to 61 percent of the national average for public library funding. As of right now, the organization is at 48 percent of the national average, Raitz said.
"I thank everybody that worked for this levy the Friends of the Library and our supporters and those who voted for it," Raitz said. "I ask that the people who voted against the levy watch us and what we do for the community over the next five years and hopefully they will change their minds."