Carnegie Library of Homestead will receive about $204,000 annually as a result of voters in three boroughs approving a referendum question Tuesday, while McKeesport voters called for several changes to the city's home rule charter.
"That's going to save us. That is what we needed in order to sustain ourselves for years," said Carol Shrieve, Homestead's library director of administration.
Voters in Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall, the borough in which the library is located, supported a measure to dedicate .33 mills of real estate tax toward operation and maintenance of the library. The measure failed to pass in Whitaker by a handful of votes.
Support for the library seemed to be sufficient before the election, according to Ms. Shrieve.
"We did receive a very overwhelming gauge that we need to do this, and it's the right thing," she said.
Carnegie Library of Homestead was built in 1898. It is not affiliated with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
The Munhall library's annual budget is about $850,000, with which it provides free access to 34,000 volumes of books and other publications and to computers. The library also is home to a fitness center with an indoor pool and a music hall that has been booking about 30 national acts every year for the past five years.
"We're much more than a library," Ms. Shrieve said. "It's a community center."
Expenditures include more than $100,000 annually for utilities for the 34,000-square-foot building, $250,000 in payroll and about another $50,000 for insurance.
The referendum on the library was presented to voters in communities that make up Steel Valley School District, plus Whitaker, which is part of West Mifflin Area School District.
In McKeesport, the home rule charter has been amended to:
* Require that "councilman" be replaced by "councilperson" and "Councilmen" be replaced by "Councilpersons" on each reference in the charter.
* Give the city "full and complete powers of local self-government."
* Require that council members be a resident of the city for at least one year and not hold any other elected government position.
* Require publishing new fees or increases to existing fees before approval.
* Prohibit the mayor from holding any other elected office, while requiring the mayor to report to city council, which will determine any mayoral salary or benefit deferments.
* Change the department of law and city attorney to solicitor. The holder of that position, subject to council approval, can be an individual or law firm.
* Outline the powers, duty and authority of the city controller.
* Require all checks or drafts to be "executed if they were properly approved pursuant to the charter and Pennsylvania law."
* Require all city contracts to be approved by council on at least a biannual basis.
Harry Funk, freelance writer: email@example.com.