WARREN - A year-old dispute between the largest library system in Trumbull County and the two smallest over how to divide state funding is nowhere close to being resolved, but there's a sign that the sides are trying to settle the matter.
The division of millions in public library funding among the county's seven library systems is at the center of the conflict, which appears to be heading toward mediation.
Meanwhile, the libraries are waiting for a determination from the county budget commission - Auditor Adrian Biviano, Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and Treasurer Sam Lamancusa - on just how much each will receive from the $6.7 million available in 2014.
Dividing the funding became a problem last year when the libraries disagreed on how to divide about $6.6 million that was available for this year.
Warren-Trumbull County Public Library representatives wanted to increase the library's share to 59.4 percent, an amount determined by plugging into a formula service population, facility square footage and hours of operation, said director Jim Wilkins.
The money, Wilkins said, would make way to expand services.
In 2014, the seven library systems in Trumbull County will share $6.7 million from Ohio's Public Library Fund. If funding percentages remain the same, this is what each library will receive:
Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 50 percent - $3.3 million
McKinley Memorial Library, Niles, 12.5 percent - $883,922
Girard Free Library and Hubbard Public Library, 9.6 percent - $640,839
Newton Falls Public Library, 7.4 percent - $494,361
Kinsman Free Public Library, 6.1 percent - $406,142
Bristol Public Library, 4.7 percent - $313,929
But directors with the Bristol Public Library and the Kinsman Free Public Library wanted the funding allocation to remain the same, with Warren receiving 50 percent and the rest distributed among the six other systems.
Any loss in funding, say Cheryl French in Bristol and Darla Bates in Kinsman, threatens their survival.
The budget commission kept the funding levels the same, causing Warren-Trumbull County to appeal to Ohio's Board of Tax Appeals. Before the matter is heard by a state it's likely a mediator will help the sides try to resolve their issues, to work out a ''way to be fair to everyone and not hurt anybody,'' French said.
The budget commission should have a ruling for 2014 allocations in September. The sides are still trying to determine when to meet with a mediator.
As it stands now, the Warren-Trumbull County Library receives 50 percent of the state library funding and what's left over is distributed among the other six systems: McKinley Memorial Library, 12.5 percent; Girard Free Library and Hubbard Public Library, 9.6 percent; Newton Falls Public Library, 7.4 percent; Kinsman, 6.1 percent; and Bristol, 4.7 percent.
In real dollars for 2014, those percentages amount to $3.3 million for Warren; $883,922 for Niles; $640,839 for Girard and Hubbard; $494,361 for Newton Falls; $406,142 for Kinsman; and $313,929 for Bristol.