Source: Sherman Publications

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Library committee favors higher millage

by Mary Keck

April 25, 2012

The newly formed District Library Agreement Committee is off and running, and considering a higher tax rate for residents.

The committee preferred an eight-year millage rate of 1.38 to support the district library. The library's current .691 millage is voted on every four years. According to Director Julie Meredith, most library mill rates are decided every 6, 8, or 10 years.

A 1.38 mill rate appealed to the committee because it would pay for maintaining the library building.

"We [have served] the public, but it has been at the expense of maintaining the building. Now we're in a situation where the building has definitely been neglected," Meredith stated.

Resurfacing the parking lot, repairing the roof, and fixing ductwork would be part of the library's capital improvement plan if a 1.25 mill rate was accepted, but 1.38 mills would offer the public more, she explained.

With 1.38 mills, the library could expand their e-book collection and add staff such as a part-time children's librarian, which would broaden programming for kids in the community. They could also plan for the future. The library would have "money to sock away" that could be used later to add interior walls that would offer more quiet study space or building expansion, Meredith said.

District library talks broke down in 1992, when Clarkston City Council and Independence Township Board couldn't come to an agreement about how much to raise the library's millage.

The word around town was that the millage increase for a districtwide library would be blamed on Clarkston's new cityhood, so some felt it was "bad timing" to place it on the ballot.

Twenty years later, the agreement committee was reorganized to try again, meeting on April 16.

The committee unanimously decided those governing the future district library should be appointed rather than elected. They also unanimously agreed there should be seven board members whose terms of unpaid service would last three years.

The only decision that wasn't unanimous was the reestablished library's name. Most felt Clarkston Independence District Library was appropriate because the library has a Clarkston address and it would share the district school's name. Neil Wallace, representing Charter Township of Independence, was the sole voice expressing the opinion that "Independence" should come before "Clarkston."

The committee is in the early stages of decision-making. None of their resolutions are set in stone. Instead, they will be presented to Attorney Anne Seurynck who will bring back a "rough draft of the agreement based on decisions the committee made" to the next meeting, Meredith said.

Along with completing a survey that will be sent out to the community within the next few weeks, interested citizens can attend the District Library Agreement Committee's upcoming meeting on April 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Independence Township Hall.