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Martins Ferry library could lose $25K per year

MARTINS FERRY — City Council learned Wednesday that public libraries across the state, including Martins Ferry’s facility, may receive less state funding starting July 1.

Richard Hord, who is a new Belmont County District Library board member, informed council about the situation. He said the state Public Library Fund may see a decrease from the current rate of 1.7 percent of the state’s General Revenue Fund to 1.66 percent.

He asked city officials to voice their support for the library and concern about the decrease in funding by contacting state representatives. Mayor John Davies said the city would send a letter to officials doing that.

According to information provided by Hord, the Ohio Library Council is asking state lawmakers to maintain the current rate of 1.7 percent this fiscal year. Hord noted funding across the state is tight, but libraries and the services provided at the facilities are more important now than ever for communities.

“As a regular customer, they do excellent work there,” Hord added.

After the meeting, library Director Anthony Orsini said the rate decrease would equate to $25,000 less per year in funding for his library district.

“We continue to do our best to limit the impact funding cuts have on the library services our community receives. While I cannot speak directly to the actions we will take to account for this loss, I can tell you that with $25,000 we are able to purchase more than 1,000 books for our community to enjoy, or employ two part-time library assistants,” Orsini said. “Our library today receives less funding from the state than we did in 2008.”

In other matters, city leaders discussed putting up signage at city-owned parks and playgrounds banning dogs. This comes on the heels of someone being bitten by a dog at a park in the Hillandale area. City Law Director Paul Stecker said the city could simply put up the signs but added that council should approve an ordinance describing the penalties for not obeying the rule.

Meanwhile, Jim Howard, Martins Ferry Recreation Department board member, said the department recently received several generous donations for the swimming pool. He added that workers can begin filling the pool as soon as the city’s vacuum truck can suck out a line. Davies said the truck would be made available soon but had another job to do today.

Howard noted seasonal pool passes are available for purchase at the Rec Center between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Seasonal pass prices are $60 for a single person, $85 for a family and $40 for seniors. Evening swims are not included. Daily regular admission to the pool is $2 for seniors 65 years old and older; $3 for adults; $1 for children 5-17 years old; and free for children 4 years old and younger. The pool is slated to open Memorial Day weekend.

In other business, council is mulling over how to possibly split proceeds from sweeper parking tickets between the police department, which often writes tickets for people who do not move their cars on sweeper days, and the new parking meter enforcer position. Police Chief John McFarland said he would like the proceeds from tickets his officers write to go directly to the police department fund.

McFarland added he also would like the city’s part-time officers’ pay to be increased from $11 to $15 per hour.

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