Citizen committee explains ballot proposals to support Tecumseh District Library May 7
The vote on Tuesday, May 7, to renew the 1.15 supporting mills for the Tecumseh District Library (TDL) and add another .2 mill to compensate for the decline in property values was the topic of a public forum Wednesday night, April 17, hosted by the citizens’ group TDL Ballot Question Committee (TDLBQC). The forum was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh to conform with election rules prohibiting use of the library for the millage campaign.
Anne Walker, chairperson of the pro-millage TDLBQC, presented the reasons that the library will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist if the renewal millage (Proposal 1) is not approved by the voters of the Tecumseh School District. She also made the case for the need of the additional millage (Proposal 2) for the members of the public. Trustees of the TDL Board were on hand to field any questions that the citizens’ group could not answer.
Walker began by recounting some of the 10-year history of the facility since it became a district library, severing all ties with the Tecumseh Public Schools. “In 2003, it became a district library. The first year we were without a director or funds. It was basically the volunteer efforts of what became known as the ‘Seven Founding Mothers,’ who kept the place going that year,” said Walker, who, though she did not mention it, was one of the seven.
TDL Director Gayle Hazelbaker was hired when the revenue from the first levy became available and the library board began the process of restoring the building, which was in need of a roof, heating and air conditioning, lighting, wiring and many other necessities, Walker said.
Walker pointed out the need for the extra .2 mill, noting that the precipitous drop in property values caused by the recession that began in 2008 had caused a subsequent drop in revenues, but despite the decline in money available, the library had managed to add computers, WiFi, furniture, programs, new books, and many other enhancements. “All of those things are needed to keep the library up-to-date,” she told the audience, “but patrons have said that they found the staff to be one of the library’s most important resources.”
One of the important services offered for free, as are all the programs, are the workshops on electronic devices ranging from Nooks to iPads. “They can even help you with your smartphone,” she said. She added that the library has become as important for its instruction as it has always been for the books and disks it has for circulation. “We were warned that the electronic revolution would make libraries obsolete,” she said, “but it has actually made them indispensable, especially for those of us who are electronically challenged.”
She said that one of the most asked questions is “How much is this going to cost me?” Proposal 1 will cost a homeowner with value of $50,000 $2.40 per month, with an additional $0.42 per month if Proposal 2 is approved. A home valued at $75,000: $3.59 and $0.63 per month, respectively. Walker said that homeowners could determine the amount for their property by consulting a chart available on the group’s website, www.vote4tdl.com.
The floor was opened for questions, and one of the first was, “Why were the two proposals not combined into one? Answer: By law, the levies must be presented separately as a renewal, plus increase.
One audience member asked, “Where do you expect the most opposition?” Answer: From people who are feeling the pinch of the current economy. `Walker emphasized that the library has survived and thrived on the same levy that inaugurated the facility as a district library ten years ago. “The money has been carefully managed,” she said.
She said that one of the biggest challenges would be making the public aware that the polling places are not the same as a November election. “We had to hold a special election because the library will be out of funds by July if the millage is not approved, and Raisin Township said that they would hold it.”
Balloting will take place in two locations that are within about one-quarter of a mile of each other. Virtually all of the voters in Tecumseh Public School District are eligible to cast a ballot. Voters in City of Tecumseh Precincts 1, 2, and 3 may vote at Raisin Twp. Fire Station, 5525 Occidental Hwy. Voters in the City of Tecumseh Precinct 4 and all library district voters in the townships of Adrian, Franklin, Macon, Raisin, Ridgeway, and Tecumseh may vote at Raisin Community Center, 3266 Gady Rd.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and absentee ballots are available at the Raisin Twp. Office adjacent to the fire station. The deadline for having the ballots mailed, however, has passed.