Petitions would expand county library system

    Petitions currently are being circulated in the Monroe Township portion of the town of Monroe seeking approval of residents there to join the Adams Public Library System (APLS).
    The petition process was initiated by the APLS board of directors and, if 20 percent of the registered voters in the target area — which lies south of State Route 124 and includes the majority of residents in the town — sign the petitions, the area identified as Monroe/Monroe would become the third library district in Adams County.
    Kelly Ehinger, director of the Adams Public Library System, said approximately 92 valid signatures are needed as part of the petition drive. Registered voters in Monroe/Monroe are carrying the signatures door-to-door and have until July 10 to complete their efforts.
    The county currently has two library districts: the Berne Public Library, supported by tax dollars from Berne; and the APLS, supported by residents in Decatur and Geneva. Ehinger said if the Monroe/Monroe petition drive is successful, residents in the Monroe Township portion of the town will see their taxes increase minimally.
    "Owners of a home with a gross valuation of $100,000 would see their taxes increase by $2 or $3 a month," Ehinger said. "But that doesn't mean more revenue for us (the APLS). It simply means the tax rate will be lowered slightly" for library district taxpayers in Decatur and Geneva. Tax collections would not start until 2015.
    Approval would also mean that all residents of Monroe/Monroe could use APLS facilities and resources in Geneva and/or Decatur without charge.
    "We are excited that a group of individuals will be carrying the petition," the director said. "Over the last few years, we have spoken with a number of Monroe residents who really want the educational and literacy development opportunities that are provided by the library. Registered voters of Monroe now get to cast their own vote by signing a petition carried by our Monroe friends."
    Ehinger said Adams County is surrounded by counties that have county-wide library service, including Allen, Wells and Jay in Indiana and Van Wert in Ohio.
    She said a random survey was done in the fall 2011 and found that the majority of Monroe residents want library service "and are willing to pay the few dollars it costs in property taxes" as opposed to paying $70 every year for a non-resident library card.
    "There are studies that show a positive correlation between libraries and property values, studies that show that students with access to public libraries do better in school, studies that show that literacy development starts at birth and one of the best places to help that development is the library, studies that show that libraries provide an increased economic value to the area," Ehinger said. "Libraries provide a huge return on investment in terms of the value of services to investment."
    To sign the petition, contact Leanne Tijerina, Laura Christner or Holly Mishler. To help carry petitions, individuals need to be a registered voter residing in Monroe Township within the town of Monroe. Contact Kelly Ehinger at 724-2605 for more information.