Source: Sherman Publications

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Library needs twp. board support for millage vote

by Susan Bromley

January 11, 2012

Brandon Twp.- The library is open only five days a week effective this month. If township residents approved a millage proposal this year, hours of service would likely be restored.

But will voters get the opportunity to decide?

"It's important for us to show the Brandon Township Board why this is important," said Library Director Paula Gauthier. "If we don't have their support, this (millage request) is dead in the water."

The library board will meet at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 23, at the library, 304 South St., to vote on a resolution requesting the township to approve language for a .227 library millage rate increase and placing the issue before voters on the August primary ballot.

The library has had four consecutive years of declining operating revenue due to the fall in property tax values since about 2007. As a result, a 2.0 operating millage rate approved by voters in 1999 has decreased to 1.773 mills due to the Headlee Amendment, under which millages are rolled back to keep growth of revenue to no more than the rate of inflation.

The decline in revenue has forced the library to close its doors on Sundays and Fridays (beginning in January), freeze salaries for the past three years, and reduce budgets for materials including books, ebooks, audio books, dvds, and programming for children and adults.

In November, the library board decided to gauge support of a millage increase by forming a campaign committee. That committee met on Jan. 6.

"The cuts will be even bigger if we can't find a way to bring revenue to the library," said Library Board President Ann Schmid. "We can't run the budget on the hopes of fundraising— it needs to be something more definitive."

If voters approved the proposed .227 millage rate increase, the library would have an additional $96,000 in revenue annually and township residents would have a $12 increase in taxes on a home valued at $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000.

Even if voters approved the millage, which Gauthier said is more a return to what was previously approved, rather than a "new" millage, it would still be a "stop-gap measure."

"We will regain some lost revenue, but certainly not as much as we would like," she said.

Schmid said the library is vital to the community, especially in a world that is changing. The library has computers available, e-books to borrow, and offers services to help patrons find employment, as well as more traditional services.

"To lose or diminish what we have here would be devastating," said Schmid.