Correction: The owner of a $100,000 home pays $66.50 a year for the levy.
ELYRIA – Successfully passing a tax levy is not an easy thing to do, especially when your history does not include needing that kind of taxpayer support to do your job.
That was the circumstances Lyn Crouse, the Elyria Public Library director, has grappled with for several months. With just a little more than two years at the helm and no levy experience – she came to Elyria from Pennsylvania where libraries are funded by the state – Crouse learned in a trial-by-fire situation how to keep the funding flowing.
The crash course in levy politics worked.
According to unofficial election results, the library’s 1.9-mill property tax levy passed with a tally of 4,727 votes or 60 percent for the tax levy to 3,108 votes or 39 percent against the tax levy.
The owner of a $100,000 home pays $66.50 a year for the levy.
It is not known at this time where the widest support came from as the library issue was seen by voters in Elyria and Keystone school districts, including areas such as Elyria Township, Penfield Township and part of Carlisle Township that had not been paying for library services.
“We knew it was going to be a tough election,” Crouse said.
Just the nature of the levy itself made it a difficult campaign. Even though it was the same millage Elyria voters have always paid, a new state law that aimed to rid taxpayers of paying tax levies to two library districts meant it had to be placed on the ballot as a completely new tax.
It was an increase for voters in the Keystone school district and a new tax for others. And then there was the snafu about campaign literature incorrectly identifying what Elyria voters had been paying – a problem a resident discovered and brought to their attention.
As such, campaign workers fought until the last second to pass the levy.
On Tuesday afternoon, Crouse could be found poll checking – checking a list of voters who had already checked in to vote against a list she had of known library supporters.
“We have to know if our supporters actually voted,” she said. “We called them on the phone and encouraged them to get to the polls.”
Crouse did not run the campaign alone.
The Rev. Janet Long of Washington Avenue Christian Church and Debbie Kroupa, a LaGrange resident and longtime support of the Keystone-LaGrange Community Library, co-chaired the levy campaign.
“I helped organize the first Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Community Library and basically I circled around to make sure all the wonderful services of the library continue,” Kroupa said.
Bill McFadden, the Elyria library's board president, said the board hadn’t thought about what it would do if the levy failed. The levy provides 50 percent of the libraries budget and without it the levy would had faced “radical changes.”
Jane Phillips, 37, said as a mother of two children she goes to the Elyria Public Library often. As such, she voted in favor of the levy.
“A strong library is an asset to a community,” she said. “We have that in Elyria and I think we have to do everything to keep it strong.”
Dawn Hensler, 40, said she voted in favor for the Elyria library issue to counterbalance her no vote for Elyria Schools.
“I don’t believe in the bureaucracy of public schools and how it affects curriculum,” she said. “But libraries are important because they often children books and ways to advance their education outside of the confines of public schools. They are important for kids to have.”