June 11, 2014 - In response to those who support the second chance, stealth, library tax increase vote on Aug. 5, 2014, Independence Township district library supporters fail to mention that long before the library tax increase proposal was voted down on Nov. 6, 2012, the proposal was already set up for a second election if the first had failed.
It failed in an election that had the highest possible voter turnout, the Nov. 6, 2012 general election, where a majority of voters said "no."
So hear we are again in 2014 holding a "save the library" second vote on the exact same tax increase proposal that failed less then two years ago.
But this time around it will go before the fewest amount of voters on Aug. 5, 2014, rather then three months later in November 2014 general election where the majority can speak again.
So much for the will of the majority, their vote will be ignored in favor of a vote of the minority on Aug. 5, 2014.
I disagree. as I did in 2012, that the library needs a 1.25 millage because the numbers as presented by district library officials show us that the library millage proposal is asking taxpayers for way too much of our money. What isn't being told is the fact that this 1.25 tax increase proposal is an 81.69% increase over the .691 library millage now being collected!
Considering that a supporter claims that the library has lost 40% of it's funding over the years, taxpayers should ask why the district library is asking for an 81% increase. Especially when you consider the numbers that came straight from library officials. Here they are:
In this paper, library director Julie Meredith said that in 2013 the library's .691 millage will generate $1,030,798, and its expenditures were projected to be $1,038,316. Resulting in a $7,518 deficit.
But not to fear, the $7,518 deficit will be taken from the Library's $219,569 fund balance (slush fund). And the previous year (2012) the .691 library millage brought in $1,135,600, the library spent $1,128,800. Resulting in a $6800 surplus.
Using the numbers that were presented to the public in this paper by Ms. Meredith, had the library's 1.25 mill tax hike proposal been passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, the library's 2013 revenue would have increased by 81.69% or $834,946.38.
The 2013 library revenue would have been $1,865,744.38. A $730,144 revenue increase over 2012, and a $834,946.38 revenue increase over the 2013 fiscal year. This tax increase proposal is approximately a $6 million dollar increase in revenue over it's 8 year life. So considering that in 2013 the library had a $7,518 deficit and in 2012 it had a surplus, why is the library asking for such a huge $834,946 increase annually for the next 8 years?
In a March 20 News in Brief, library director Julie Meredith said the 1.25 library tax increase proposal "would be a 0.551 mill increase over the present .691 millage and would cost an average homeowner $125, a $56 per year increase."
Meredith went on to say: "It's replacement funding – we still need to secure funding." Yet the numbers tell a different story - 1.25 - .691 = is a 0.559 increase, not 0.551. Irregardless of that mistake, claiming that a whopping 81.69% tax increase is "replacement funding" completely ignores the fact that this proposal is a huge tax increase.
On April 3, 2014 - "One more chance for Library Millage" story in this paper, library officials said "we are asking taxpayers to pay about $125 per residence a year, which is $58 more than the average $67 paid now," yet in the same story Marilyn Pomeroy, president of the library board said this about the $125 per residence tax: "We're asking for about $52 a year increase from last year."
Considering that we've been given numerous different cost scenarios, taxpayers should be asking why there are so many inconsistencies in the numbers being presented by library officials? Will this be a $56, $58, or a $52 per year tax increase? Taxpayers have a right to know.
Then on April 16, 2014 the district library announced that this tax increase will go from $29.20 per resident to $50.44 per resident. A $21.24 tax increase per resident.
Considering that property taxes are based on the assessed value of property and not on how many residents live in a home, why were taxpayers given a "per resident" tax comparison?
More deception - After the failure of the Nov. 6, 2012 library tax increase proposal Library Board trustee Kay Robertson said in this paper that: "Many chose to not even respond yes or no to the library proposal." Proponents of this tax increase are beating the same drums this year claiming that "many people said they didn't realize it was on the ballot."
Yet the election results tell a much different story:
Results from the Nov. 6, 2012 election:
Trustees -14,728 votes.
Brown, Palatta, Kittle - 13,052, 13,561, 13,848 votes respectively.
The library millage proposal -18,918 votes.
18,918 - 14,728 = 4,190. As you can see over 4,000 more voters chose to be heard on the library millage proposal then voted for any of the candidates in the Nov. 6, 2012 general election, not less!
Taxpayers should question why the new township board is following the same sneaky path that the old board set them on to get this massive tax hike passed when they easily could have done the right thing and nixed the failed 81.69% library tax increase proposal and demanded that the library board propose a realistic library millage.
They could have renegotiated the district library agreement and moved the new proposal from the primary "stealth election" back to the general election in November 2014 where it belongs.
But, both boards chose to sit on their hands and let this massive tax hike proposal go forward unchanged knowing that it failed less then two years ago. Both groups did nothing to "save the library" from a funding proposal that had already failed.
As you can see the appointed library board and it's director are asking taxpayers for way too much of our money. Until they come up with a reasonable and realistic library funding proposal our family will be forced to vote "no" again on Aug. 5, 2014.
A 81.69% tax increase is an outrageous and unreasonably high request to be making of taxpayers twice in less then two years!. Anyone who claims that this millage must pass or the district library will close fails to acknowledge the fact that it failed once and the township and the library board did absolutely nothing to change a proposal that a majority of voters found unacceptable.
Now that you've heard the truth and are armed with the knowledge that this proposal is asking you for far too much of your money, I'm sure that you'll have no choice but to vote "no" again on Aug. 5, 2014!
An 81.69% tax increase is a totally irresponsible request to be making of taxpayers in any economy! "Securing funding" for the new district library is a reasonable request, however asking taxpayers for a 81.69% tax increase twice in less then two years is unreasonable and voters should once again deny it..
Tell the district library to go back to the drawing board and formulate a reasonable millage rate to "secure it's funding", If the library is forced to close until it secures that funding, contrary to the library directors claims Independence township residents can join a neighboring library such as Springfield township.
The cost for non-residents? $75 a year, according to www.springfield.lib.mi.us/index.php/about-us/borrowing/borrowing-privileges. A $50 dollar annual savings over the Independence township library tax hike proposal.
Vote "no" again on August 5, 2014. The Clarkston Independence district library is asking for too much!
Michael L. Powell is a resident of Independence Township.