The Stark County District Library has an existing 1.7-mill levy to fund its operations through 2019.

For the fourth time in 20 years, Stark County voters have rejected a tax for the Stark County District Library.

Unofficial election results show 52 percent of voters on Tuesday defeated an eight-year, 2.2-mill additional levy that was intended to help modernize the way residents access information. The property tax increase appeared on the ballots for voters outside of Massillon, Alliance, Marlington, North Canton, Louisville, Northwest and Minerva local school districts, which have separate library systems.

Executive Director Mary Ellen Icaza, who took the helm in July, said she was surprised by the results as she and her staff had heard mostly favorable feedback from the community heading into Election Day. 

"I’m disappointed the levy did not get passed tonight and I will be working with our Board of Trustees to make plans for moving forward," she said.

If the district cannot pass a new levy before its existing 1.7-mill property tax expires next year, the library district would lose more than half of its operation budget, leading to significant cuts in services, technologies and collections.

Issue 4 would have generated $3.1 million, the bulk of which would be spent on redesigning library spaces at the district’s Main Library and nine branch locations, installing new technology, improving computer and internet access and replacing deteriorating roofs. A portion of the additional annual levy revenue would be set aside to help offset any future declines in state funding and cover rising costs.

Not affected by the levy’s defeat is the construction of the Jackson Township library building.

Election results from the past 20 years show Stark voters defeated an additional levy request for the county district library in November 1997, November 2003 and March 2004.

Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or kelli.weir@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @kweirREP