Morley Library…a taxpayer millstone very few are using

We at Lobbyists for Citizens are committed to honesty and transparency on all issues dealing with Lake County.  When Morley Library decided to ask for a renewal levy, but wanted to change it to a “Continuous” levy, that raised a “red flag” for us and caused us to start researching the finances of all eight libraries in Lake County so that we could compare Morley’s performance against the other seven libraries. (Quality is the result of comparison).

In our research, we used the State Library of Ohio website, and the financial information provided to us by the individual libraries.  In all fairness, there was absolutely no problem in getting whatever financial information we needed from the libraries.  They were all very forthcoming with the data.

What we discovered about Morley Library should be of great concern to Lake County taxpayers in their 7 taxing districts.  Here is the exact resolution you will see on the November ballot.  Note the language buried deep in the resolution “a continuing period of time”.     Morley Library Resolution for Continuous Levy

Morley Library…a taxpayer millstone very few are using

The Morley Library trustees are asking for community support to renew an existing levy, but want to change it to a “continuing period of time”.  This means that the levy will continue FOREVER, and the trustees will no longer be responsible to the taxpayers in their seven taxing districts.

Our extensive research of all eight Lake County libraries shows us that the Morley Library Trustees have NOT been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

  1. Morley Library is dead last among Lake County libraries with only 28% of the population they serve being borrowers from the library. They serve 52,404 taxpayers, but have issued only 14,682 library cards. This abysmal 28% market penetration has them ranked 244th out of a total 251 public libraries in the State of Ohio.  Market Penetration in Lake County
    Market penetration State of Ohio Libraries
  2. All Lake County Libraries had $24,919,969 in their cash fund balances as of 12/31/17. Morley Library had $10,170,002 (40.8% of total library cash) While the other 7 public libraries combined have a total of $14,749,967 (59.2%).   Library Fund Balances
  3. Morley Library ranks third in total annual revenue with $3,746,696, third in total compensation with $1,591.473, and third in overall expenditures with $3,566,996 among the eight Lake County Libraries.
    Revenue & Expenditures Per Borrower
  4. The Executive Director and Fiscal HR Director each earn over $80,000 in annual compensation plus benefits and pensions.
    Morley Library Pay Rates
    Annulized Compensation Morley Library
  5. For the year ended December 31, 2016, the Auditor of the State of Ohio issued the following Adverse Opinion on U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles to the Morley Library Board of Trustees :

“In our opinion, because of the significance of the matter discussed in the Basis for Adverse Opinion on U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles paragraph, the financial statements referred to above do not present fairly, in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, the financial position of the Library as of December 31, 2016 or changes in financial position thereof for the year then ended.”      Morley Library Adverse Opinion

6. They have so much excess cash that they earned $197,049 in investment income for the year ended 2017.    Morley Library investment income

We recommend that the taxpayers in the seven taxing districts that support Morley Library vote NO on their proposed renewal levy that will be continuous (read: FOREVER).  We must send a message to the Morley Board of Trustees that they need to be better stewards of the taxpayers’ money.  It appears to us that they have built a “Taj Mahal” that no one wants to visit.

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We also compiled statistics on the total revenue collected by all eight library districts for the years 2018 versus 2008 by taxing district.  Here are the schedules for all districts, and then by the individual library district.  We should inform you that the State of Ohio, in order to balance their budget, have systematically decreased funding to all local governments, libraries and schools.  This has placed a tremendous strain on the local taxpayers, and is another factor in seniors and those on fixed incomes being priced out of their homes.
There has been an overall 69.3% increase in Lake County real estate taxes from 2008 to 2018 in support of all eight libraries.  $11,455,761.88 versus $6,765,836.54 = $4,689,925.34 (69.3%)
All Lake County Library Districts 2018 vs 2008
Perry Library District
Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library
Madison Public Library
Mentor Public Library
Fairport Harbor Public Library
Kirtland Public Library
Wickliffe Public Library
Morley Library District
[Interesting to note in the Morley Library District, Painesville City realized the 2nd largest drop in taxes (~$53,000) for the library.  I have yet to understand how that can happen other than a tremendous drop in market valuation.]

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