WARRENTON — With only six days until the election, a town hall meeting in Warrenton Wednesday night became one of the last public forums for city commissioners to advocate for a levy to fund library operations.
Measure 4-189 is the first time in nearly 15 years that the city has asked voters to consider increasing the library’s operational levy. If the measure passes Tuesday, the levy would jump from 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to 33 cents, raising an estimated $933,773 over the next five years.
It is a modest increase, enough to ensure the library, “an important part of our community,” wouldn’t have to draw on other city funds to stay open and could add some services, Commissioner Rick Newton said.
Library board members say the community support is there. Members of a local political action committee, Save Our Library, have printed and distributed posters and walked door-to-door to encourage people to vote “yes” on the levy.
Kelsey Balensifer, library board chairwoman, said she thinks the support would have been there for the library even if it were still located in Hammond.
But the move to Main Avenue this summer brought the library into the middle of downtown. Traffic through the library — and awareness of what it offers — has greatly increased, she said.
In a presentation about the library Wednesday night, site manager Nettie-Lee Calog said the next big step for the library if the measure passes is to add automation services — library bar codes on the books and a computer system that tracks where the books are and allows people to browse the library’s catalog on their home computers. Library staff and volunteers still hand stamp due dates on the books and keep track of the collection through a card catalog system.
Calog also hopes to add a children’s librarian and be able to be open in the evenings.
“Right now, we’re just bare bones,” Calog said, crediting a diligent group of volunteers with keeping the library afloat. The library has only two paid employees, both working part time.
Overall, Mayor Henry Balensifer said, “We’re going to offer more.”
As Calog started talking about what she plans to do “if the levy passes,” she paused and corrected to, “when the levy passes.”