Council to governor: Don't balance budget at expense of libraries

June 30, 2009

Akron City Council expressed its support for the state's public libraries Monday night in passing a resolution urging Gov. Ted Strickland not to balance the budget at the expense of a public resource that residents have come to rely on for decades.

In response to the governor's plan to cut the Public Library Fund by another 30 percent on top of the 20 percent cut caused by declining tax revenues, Ward 8 Councilman Raymond W. Cox III offered the resolution which also encourages residents to express the same to the governor and state lawmakers.

The Public Library Fund, formerly known as the Library and Local Government Support Fund, was established in 1985 for the sole purpose of funding public libraries in Ohio. The proposed budget would reduce the fund by $200 million.

"We understand the demands of balancing the state budget, but at 50 percent, it will be devastating," Cox said when introducing the resolution. "You will be stopping maintenance on all of the new Akron-Summit County libraries that have been built over the years.They will be effectively empty as they will have shorter hours and fewer staff."

Council President Marco Sommerville said he already has called Ohio Rep. Vernon Sykes to stress the gravity and urgency of the library funding situation - especially as more residents rely on libraries in this economy.

"I made it clear that I am very concerned about our libraries," Sommerville (W-3) said. "A lot of people are using libraries to find jobs. We need to come up with better ways to create revenue for the state."

Council will deliver a copy of the resolution to the governor and the Ohio Legislature.