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Wood County Public Library, Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority seek levy renewals

Tax rates would remain the same

Edain Campbell, young adult librarian assistant, placed checked-in books back on the shelf Wednesday at the Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library on Emerson Avenue. A renewal of the library’s levy is on the primary election ballot May 10. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Levies supporting the Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library and Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority are up for renewal in the primary election, with no increase in taxes if they pass.

The library levy charges 1.08 cents per every $100 of assessed valuation of Class II (residential) properties. The owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay $6.48 a year or $4.32 if they have a homestead exemption, according to a fact sheet provided by the library.

The rate for Class III and IV properties (rentals, businesses, vehicles and other personal property) is $2.16.

“It’s the same levy that was passed the last two times,” said Brian Raitz, executive director of the library. “It is not raising taxes.”

The levy is projected to generate $580,431 a year for a total of $2,902,155 over its five-year span. According to the bond order approved by the Wood County Commission, that money would be used to build a new Williamstown library facility, continue payments on the south Parkersburg branch opened in 2016 and the renovations to the main branch on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg, as well as contribute to the general operation of the library and its branches.

A Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority bus is shown in front of the transit center on Juliana Street in September. Renewals of the authority’s existing levies in Parkersburg and Vienna are on the primary election ballot. (File Photo)

“We can’t spend it any other way than what’s listed there,” Raitz said.

The library is committed to establishing a new Williamstown location by 2025, Raitz said.

“We have a design already in place,” he said.

The former Williamstown Elementary property that has been donated to the city is a possibility, either with new construction or some of the existing facility, but nothing has been finalized.

The excess levy accounts for nearly a third of the library’s funding. If voters reject it, there would have to be “drastic changes,” Raitz said. Those decisions would be made by the library’s board, but steps like reducing hours and closing branches would have to be considered.

The Transit Authority receives about three-quarters of its funding from levies in Parkersburg and Vienna. The Parkersburg levy is assessed at 12.496 cents per $100 of valuation on Class II properties, while the Vienna rate is 11.666 cents per $100 and twice that for other property. They are projected to raise $2,172,200.25 a year in Parkersburg and $870,217.53 annually in Vienna.

“There’s no change or anything,” MOVTA General Manager Michael Kesterson said. “This is just a renewal of the existing levy.”

The authority operates multiple Easy Rider bus routes in Parkersburg and Vienna six days a week. Average daily ridership over the past fiscal year has fluctuated between 700 and 800, but Kesterson said he expects to see an increase now that masks are no longer required.

The authority employs 25 drivers, six maintenance employees and nine office staff.

“We’re short drivers. We need to hire an additional four drivers. We want to start our night loops back up,” Kesterson said.

Those three commuter loops were suspended last fall due to the lack of drivers.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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2022 West Virginia Primary Election

* Early voting is available in Wood County from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Judge Black Annex in downtown Parkersburg.

* Satellite sites will open Tuesday at the Vienna Community Building, Williamstown City Building and Mineral Wells and Lubeck volunteer fire departments. Their hours are also 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

* Election Day is Tuesday, May 10. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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