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December 1, 2008

Property Tax Reform...... Only the Results Matter

A common topic in the press over the last couple of years has been property tax reform, which included a mandatory reduction in the tax rates for all local governments and a doubling of the homestead exemption. The bottom line is fewer dollars are available to local governments and services have been negatively affected in a variety of ways. As a unit of local government, the Orange County Library System has not been immune to the effects of this reform. Our budget has been flat for the last two years and as a result, our branch expansion plans have been put on hold. In October 2006, we purchased a former State Farm office building on Chickasaw Trail and planned to remodel it for use a branch library. That building has sat empty for two years and currently, we are trying to lease it.

While property tax reform is the reality, we recognize that results are the only thing that matters and choose to focus on what we have been able to accomplish for the residents of the Library district rather than what has been lost.

• Annual circulation - 10,150,000 (up 8%)
• Annual walk in visits - 5,296,000 (up 6%)
• Annual computer use- 932,142 (up 7%)

The Library is committed to lifelong learning. Monthly, we offer a tremendous variety of online as well as in person classes in our facilities. These classes range from computer basics to creating web pages using HTML. We also offer Mac classes. Check our website or monthly newsletter for a complete listing of the classes available. There is something for everybody.

In these challenging economic times one service that we vetted carefully for continuation was our Materials Access to Your Library (MAYL) program which is also sometimes referred to as Books By Mail. MAYL serves the entire 1,000 square miles of the County, circulating about 700,000 items. In spite of impressions to the contrary, the cost of MAYL measures up favorably against the cost of traditional library service delivery options and the program is extremely popular. After careful consideration, we concluded that MAYL is the most efficient means of getting materials to our patrons. We are pleased to be able to continue this program.

Despite the limitations imposed by property tax reform and the challenges in the economy, we remain committed to providing the services that you want and need in the most cost effective manner. Through continuous innovation, we continue to challenge ourselves to create a well informed, well connected community, making Orange County a great place to live, learn, work, and play. As always, we want to hear from you. Tell us what you think.


Mary Anne Hodel

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