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Library millage on Aug. ballot

by Susan Bromley

January 25, 2012

Brandon Twp.- Voters will be asked to approve a millage increase for the library this August.

Library Director Paula Gauthier said she has received new legal counsel that it will not be necessary for the library board to have the support of township officials in order to put a millage request on the ballot.

"Our board can place the issue on the ballot themselves, by passing a resolution," said Gauthier. "They are going to do it, absolutely. The millage question will definitely be on the August primary ballot."

The ballot language is not yet written. The library board will pass the resolution at their May meeting because they must wait until after property tax assessments are done this spring so the amount of money the millage will raise can be included in the ballot language.

The library plans to ask voters to approve a .227 millage rate increase, which officials currently estimate will bring about $96,000 in additional revenue to the library annually. Township residents with a home valued at $100,000 (with a taxable value of $50,000) would see an increase of about $23 per year in taxes.

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.

A discussion of what services would be restored with passage of the new millage will occur during the next library board meeting, set for 7 p.m., Feb. 9, at the library, 304 South St.

A "Support Our Library Committee" has also been formed to garner public support of the millage increase and restoring library services to 2008 levels. The committee is co-chaired by Chuck Murray and Ed Albertson and they invite all persons who support the role of the library in the community to join them at a meeting planned for 7 p.m., Feb. 6, at Brandon Fire Station #2, 3065 S. Sashabaw Road.

"We will review a punchlist of things we have to do to get the campaign underway," Murray said. "The library has been so much a part of my life, since I was a kid, all the way through high school and college and also for my children in their lives. The library is the heart of the community."

Details: Chuck Murray at 248-892-7632, or email chucklesmurray123@charter.net.