County libraries seek federal bailout funds from commissioners – BG Independent News

By David Dupont

BG Independent News

The Wood County District Public Library and other county libraries are asking county commissioners for $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to be used for capital projects.

Library Director Michael Penrod told trustees Monday that due to the unique way libraries are organized in Ohio, they, as separate political subdivisions, are not eligible to apply for these funds through themselves. So WCDPL and the libraries of Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Rossford, Wayne and Weston have come together to apply for a share of county funds.

Each library, Penrod said, has different needs. They could be used for solar panels, made locally by First Solar, on the Walbridge branch. The Way Library in Perrysburg needs a new roof and WCDPL needs to replace its $250,000 heating system. It is also in the early stages of planning a major renovation and expansion project.

The funds would be distributed in the same manner as the state public library fund is distributed through the county budget commission.

WCDPL gets 36.18% and Perrysburg 24.55%, with the others getting smaller slices.

These would be “core funds” for libraries that would reach every library user in the county, Penrod said.

In the letter to commissioners, library managers noted that a recent study shows libraries impact the county’s economy by more than $35 million.

Penrod also let administrators know that it looks like the enjoyment of the state public library will once again exceed budget estimates. The library expects to get about $1 million. Last year he received $1.1 million.

The public library fund is generated by 1.7% of state revenue. These are up this year.

Penrod, however, was cautious beyond this year. A recession could reduce these payments. In addition, a reduction in state income tax would also reduce the fund.

When the library receives more than expected, he says, care should be taken to save those dollars for future needs.

When the library received pipeline payments, it did not spend these on operating expenses. Instead, they were set aside for ad hoc needs, Penrod said.

These funds were spent to buy the house, just north of the Carter House on South Church Street.

The library recently took possession of the house at 309-311 S. Church St. Trustees approved the purchase last fall for $179,000. The library waited for the end of the tenants’ leases. Utilities were cut on May 26 and it will take 45 days to evacuate the gas line.

So far, $122,000 of pipeline money has been used for the project with another payout of over $40,000 slated for this year.

The library is considering offers to tear down the structure.

Once dismantled later this summer, the plot will be seeded.

Penrod said they hope the grass will grow in time for the Black Swamp Arts Festival.

Eventually, the library plans to use the land to build a carriage shed style storage facility on the site. It could be 2024, Penrod said.

The library needs storage space, he says.

Plans are to have a design that complements the style of the nearby Carter House.

They are also aware of the need to preserve the slope at the back of the house and the wall in front. If necessary, the library director said, the Carter House wall could be extended to prevent erosion.

Chairman of the Trustees Brian Paskvan said a tour of the building revealed nothing inside worth preserving. Some devices will be removed and sold.

They learned that the former tenants, who were students, said they had fed a “wildcat” in the basement. They never saw the “cat”, which turned out to be a raccoon.

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