Voters pass library levy by thin margin

5-year levy will generate $3.23M annually for libraries in Middletown, Trenton and West Chester Twp.

MIDDLETOWN — It may not have been the resounding victory library officials hoped for, but unofficial election results show voters approving a 0.75-mill levy for the Middletown Public Library.

The issue passed on a razor thin margin of 144 votes, according to final, unofficial returns from the board of elections in Butler and Warren counties. While Warren County voters approved the issue 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent —175 votes for and 119 against — Butler Couny results had the issue passing 50.2 percent, or 16,644 votes, to 49.8 percent, or 16,556 votes, against.

Middletown Public Library Director Doug Bean said he was grateful voters ultimately chose to provide additional funding to the libraries in Middletown, Trenton and West Chester Twp.

“We express our thanks to the citizens who have said they want progressive libraries, strong libraries,” Bean said. “Our goal is to restore services and hours, taking it back to where we were as quickly as we can.”

The five-year levy is predicted to generate approximately $3.23 million annually for the Middletown Public Library system. That amounts to about $23 every year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The levy will draw revenue from residents in Middletown, Monroe, Trenton and Seven Mile; and Lemon, Liberty, Madison, Wayne and West Chester townships.

Library supporters gathered at Stefano’s Italian cafe, 2200 Central Ave., Tuesday evening to watch as election results trickled in. A far cry from a typical television viewing party, attendees whipped out their iPhones and BlackBerrys and silently downloaded results straight from the board of elections.

James VonderHaar, president of the library board and chairman of the Libraries Enrich Lives committee, said he was not sure if low turnout at the polls wound up benefiting the levy.

“I think the passionate supporters got out and voted,” VonderHaar said. “The two unknowns for me were the rest of the county where we don’t really have a big, physical presence and how much the tea party movement might have impacted things.”

VonderHaar said the board appreciated the stoic reaction library staff gave when they were forced to terminate positions last fall, saying he looks forward to increasing hours as soon as possible.