Voters to decide library funding

July 31, 2014 —

A .75 mill library bond issue will appear on the August 5 primary election ballot. The millage, expected to raise approximately $105,000, is intended to provide a stable, independent source of funding for the Hudson Carnegie District Library, which serves the Hudson, Hudson Township, and parts of Dover Township, Medina Township, Rollin Township and Wheatland Township, as well as Hudson School District. It basically follows the boundaries of the school district, except for Pittsford Township, Wright Township and the Village of Clayton.

In previous years, the funding for the library has been by necessity cut repeatedly as the area economy was bruised by economic instability reflecting the national recession. The library has faced significant budget pressures over the years, since the city was under financial stress, and the library was easier to cut and perceived to be less important than things like fire and police protection.

The .75 mill proposal reflects a slight increase over the previous year’s budget, which the library is intending to use by attempting to expand personnel hours, as well as restoring money to some programming, such as the summer reading program, which had been cut back in recent years due to lack of money.

The .75 mills will cost taxpayers who own a home valued with taxable value of $50,000 approximately $37.50 per year, or about $3.13 a month.
This millage amount represents the Library District’s attempt to be conservative with costs as much as possible while still being responsible with the library’s budget. “We went through each line item,” says Lee Daugherty, Vice-President of the Library Board, “and didn’t really reduce anything. We frankly expected the full amount to be more than it was, but it ended up being the .75 that stands on the ballot.”

The bond proposal that will appear on the ballot reads as follows: “Hudson Carnegie District Library Millage Proposal: Shall the Hudson Carnegie District Library be authorized to levy a new additional tax annually upon the taxable value of all property subject to ad valorem taxation within the district of the Hudson Carnegie District Library in an amount not to exceed .75 mills ($.75 per $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of ten (10) years, 2014 through 2023, inclusive, to provide funds for all library purposes permitted by law? (This millage is estimated to provide revenues of $104,765 in the first year of the levy). To the extent required by law, a portion of this millage may be captured by and retained by the City of Hudson Downtown Development Authority.”

The City of Hudson Downtown Development Authority has waived any and all claim to any monies raised by the millage.

Additional funding not accounted for in the budget is the money raised by gifts to the library (memorials, bequeath-ments) or by the Friends of the Library. In the past, that total has ranged from $15,000 to $20,000, and while that amount will not remain steady, it will be an ongoing source of income.

The library is also renting the building from the City for $1 a year for 99 years. Insurance for the building will continue to be covered by the city, and the city will cover any kind of repair required that is on the exterior the building proper, while the Library Board will cover anything on the interior.

The Hudson Carnegie Library District was formed in 2012 in an effort to better serve the area’s residents. The library currently has 3,606 cardholders. It has a collection of 41,215 titles and 42,769 copies, as well as offering unlimited access to books from the Michigan Library system through interlibrary loan and to e-books with the Overdrive system. It offers eight computers open for use to the community and three for children in the children’s room. It has been a fixture of the City of Hudson since it was built from an donation from Andrew Carnegie in 1904, and is one of 2,509 libraries built by his funds.

If the bond measure does not pass, the library has another chance to pass it in the November election. “This is too important to not pass,” says Ed Engle, chairman of the Library Yes Committee. “We need the financial stability, the ability to plan, the ability to grow the collection, to create a vibrant library moving forward. The advantages of being a district library are so real and so important that it would be foolish to let it go simply because we lost the election. We’d really need to go after it again, learn from a loss, figure out what we needed to do differently. We’d go back and try again and try to do a better job of explaining why we want it, what the need is, and where we’re going,” he said.

If the bond does not pass in that election, the library will revert back to the City’s possession. The district library has until December to attempt to pass a millage, may be reformed, and the Library Board may try again.