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Vote NO on library tax



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August 01, 2012 - There's absolutely no way this newspaper can in good conscience endorse the 0.4518-mill tax increase being proposed by the Oxford Public Library.

In fact, we are strenuously urging township and village residents to vote NO when they head to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Reason #1 – This millage increase has no expiration date. If approved, the increase would be levied in perpetuity.

That's just plain wrong. No government entity can or should be trusted with a blank check and make no mistake, that's exactly what a perpetual millage is.

Perpetual millages are property taxes that do not require regular renewal through ballot proposal and voter approval. They're just levied year after year.

The library's two existing operating millages – which currently total 1.3982 mills after Headlee Amendment rollbacks – were originally approved in perpetuity back in 1984 and 1995.

Now, the library wishes voters to approve this proposed 0.4518-mill increase in perpetuity, so that the total amount of millage it collects will be equal to the maximum voter-authorized rates combined, a total of 1.85 mills.

We cannot do anything about the past, but we can strongly urge today's Oxford voters not to make the same mistake a third time by giving the library yet another 'forever' millage.

All local millage rates should have expiration dates. A good way to keep government officials directly accountable to the people is to hold the purse strings.

Having the ability to vote on millages every few years when they expire gives the taxpayers a decisive way to let officials know how they're doing and what the people can or cannot afford.

A perpetual millage deprives taxpayers of that ability. It's just wrong, period.

Reason #2 – The library has a fund balance – or savings account – of $1.46 million. That represents an entire year's worth of library expenditures, plus another $400,000 to boot.

We firmly believe that between the wise use of these considerable reserves and further budget cuts – there's always room for more in every government entity – the library can manage to get by until local property values and housing sales rebound. The library is in no danger whatsoever of closing its doors.

We believe tax increases should be a desperate, last resort after all other options have been thoroughly explored and exhausted. The Oxford Public Library is nowhere near that point – not with $1.46 million sitting in the bank. We absolutely hate it when government cries poor yet has pockets that are quite full.

We strongly encourage Oxford residents to vote NO on this tax hike.

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