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Cuyahoga County Public Library Seeking Additional Levy To Cover Operations

The Cuyahoga County Library is asking voters for more money this November, to help cover increasing operating costs.

It’s the first time the library has asked for an additional levy in more than a decade.

The levy would be a permanent 1-mill increase for Cuyahoga County residents, in addition to the continuing 2.5-mill levy the library currently receives. The funds would go toward general operations, as well as improvements to security and facilities.

CCPL had to reduce its operating budget this year by $5 million due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the state budget, said Executive Director Tracy Strobel. Projects such as roof repairs and HVAC replacement are on hold until next year, she said, when the library could have additional support from the levy.

The additional funding also will allow the library to provide necessary resources during the coronavirus pandemic, Strobel said.

“When the economy is challenged, when we’re in a recession, when many people are unemployed and need to skill up to find new jobs, the library is busier than ever,” Strobel said. “We are gearing up to be busy to help the community recover.”

The library hasn’t asked for an additional levy for 12 years, Strobel said. Current budget projections show if the levy passes, CCPL won’t need to ask for more tax revenue for at least 10 more, she said.

“We believe strongly that the voters trust us to use the money wisely,” Strobel said. “We certainly have the track record that we’ve done that. That’s one of the reasons we go for a continuing issue, and not one that needs to be renewed every three to five years.”

But the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) opposes a permanent increase, and says the library should pursue a levy with a term limit.

“Permanent tax levies are becoming increasingly rare in the Greater Cleveland area,” GCP said in a July press release. “Volunteer leaders of [GCP] believe permanent property tax levies for the November ballot are particularly inappropriate in lieu of an uncertain economy, potential leadership changes, an increasingly uncompetitive tax environment, and the need for accountability and structural reforms.”

A mid-2019 analysis by GCP found the tax burden for Greater Cleveland residents is higher and growing at a faster rate than peer cities, according to the release.

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