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Township library millage language OKd, submitted for August ballot

by Susan Bromley

April 25, 2012

Catherine Wagner uses a computer at the Brandon Township Library. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
Brandon Twp.- It's official—township voters will see a library millage proposal on the Aug. 7 ballot.

Five months after announcing their intention to request a millage increase, the library board formally approved at their April 23 meeting a resolution and ballot language to be submitted to the Oakland County clerk.

"By placing the millage question on the ballot, the library board is offering the residents of Brandon Township and the Village of Ortonville the opportunity to make a decision about the future of very valued library services in this community," said Library Director Paula Gauthier.

Township residents voting in the August primary will be asked:

"Shall the tax limitation imposed on all taxable real and tangible personal property within the Charter Township of Brandon, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased for said Township in an amount not to exceed .2261 mill ($.2261 mill on each $1,000 of taxable value) in perpetuity beginning with the 2012 levy, to provide funds for supporting, maintaining, and operating the Brandon Township Public Library and for all other library purposes authorized by law; and shall the Township levy such new additional millage for said purposes? The estimate of the revenue the Township will collect if the millage is approved and levied in the 2012 calendar year is approximately $95,000. By law, a portion of the revenue collected will be required to be distributed to the Village of Ortonville Downtown Development Authority."

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, freeze salaries for the past three years, and reduce budgets for materials including books, ebooks, audio books, dvds, and programming for children and adults.

"Over the last eight years I have seen an increase in library use and need by adults and teens especially in the area of technology, but I have also seen a decrease in library funding," said Library Trustee Royann Hassinger. "By restoring the millage the needs of the community can continue to be met."

A "Save Our Library Committee" has been formed to garner public support of the millage increase and restoring library services to 2008 levels.

Library Board President Ann Schmid believes the proposal will pass with the support of the committee, allowing the library "to continue to offer the community excellence in service, materials, and resources."

For more information on the "Save Our Library Committee," call Lois Robbins 248-969-2518.