When Warrenton voters cast their ballots in the November special election, they will be deciding not only whether to continue to tax themselves for the Warrenton Community Library’s operations, but essentially whether they want a library at all.
The answer is easy. Without hesitation voters should say “yes” to the ballot measure.
The measure would raise the annual library levy from 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to 33 cents during each of the next five years. The increase would raise an estimated $933,773 during that period. For a house with $100,000 in assessed value, that would be $33 a year, or about 9 cents a day. The jump from 9 cents to 33 cents is large, but the levy amount has not changed in 15 years while operating costs have consistently grown.
Supporters say the money would go toward expanding the library’s limited hours, add staff time, pay for an automated checkout system, e-books and other books and materials as well as cover its routine bills. The upgrades will help modernize a library where volunteers and staff still hand-stamp due dates in the backs of books.
Most importantly, without the levy the library will have to cease operations, Warrenton Community Library Board members say.
The levy is the library’s main funding source and revenues can only be used for its operations: the salary for the library’s two part-time employees, to purchase books, magazines and reference materials and pay rent, utilities, maintenance and telephone bills.
The library also recently moved to a new location, at 160 S. Main Ave., and has seen immediate growth in people using it and in the number of library cards issued since moving. It has more than 19,000 books, audio books and movies available for checkout and there are more than 4,000 library cards that have been issued that are considered current.
“If you look at the numbers alone, our library, just with the new location, has increased in usage and membership,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said.
Libraries are one of the institutional hallmarks of any community, and Warrenton residents should ensure it stays that way in their city. They should say “yes” to the library levy.