Library board member responds to Abraham letter
To the Editor,
David (Abraham), this is my personal response to your letter regarding The Tecumseh District Library (TDL) and the upcoming millage.
First I must correct your statement that you were part of the board that started the library back in 2003. You were never part of the board, rather you were one of a large group of citizen volunteers, city and school representatives, who formed a “district library planning committee.” You were never elected or appointed to any board position at the library.
Since you served on that committee, one must assume that you had an interest in seeing the project succeed, but after the district library agreement was finalized in November 2002, you disappeared from the scene. Never in the last ten years have you attended a TDL board meeting, strategic planning session, or availed yourself any other opportunity to be involved with the library. Do you even have a library card? If you have concerns about the millage, where have you been the last six months as this campaign has been going on?
Your use of the words “stashed” and “amassed” are definitely used to provoke and cast aspersions on the library board and the director. I would counter that they have acted prudently and with financial responsibility. An excellent rating each year from a respected auditing firm certainly affirms this.
As to the money itself: Almost $1,000,000 of the total you cite is in endowments. Endowments are gifts that are given not to be used or squandered away. Any institution that is fortunate enough to have an endowment, husbands it, using the interest when it is needed for something not part of general operating, but to enhance and to improve. The $1,200,000 in the bank represents not only the tax collection from December 2011 but, also, gifts, donations, fees, etc. Your suggestion that the library could run for three years with no additional revenue is ludicrous! Shall we try it and end up with no library?
Addressing your assertion that the library puts away money each year instead of spending it all; this is just good financial planning. There are always capital improvements to plan for and those unexpected and unforeseen problems that arise. Such funds are absolutely necessary in any fiscally responsible and sound institution.
One last point, you give a comparison of salaries to the cost of books. Libraries are not just books. They encompass and offer services and materials in many more ways. Actually, service being one of the most important. In 2012 the staff answered 9,432 individual patron inquiries, as well as providing all the other services and duties required.
Considering that the staff has not had a raise in the last four years and each year has had to contribute more to health insurance, you will not find a more dedicated, resourceful, and devoted group of people, ready and willing to serve the patrons. By the way, the price of books, computers, and all the other materials the library provides have continued to go up.
There is no argument that the library needs the 1.15 renewal. As to the additional .2, the board wrestled with this and finally concluded that this was the minimum that was needed to keep current services and to continue to keep pace with new demands in technology and other patron needs. Actually, because of current housing assessments, most taxpayers will pay little more for both of these millage requests than they did in 2003. For an extra $.50-$1.25 a month, which is what the .2 will cost, one should consider all that it brings for “FREE” in the way of materials, personal assistance, a quiet place to sit and relax, or to access WiFi.
Unfortunately, David, you have “kicked up some dust,” but your argument just does not hold up. The facts and information which has been provided to the public by the library and the Ballot Question Committee tell the true story and, hopefully, will ensure the passage of both proposals on May 7.
Nancy T. Smith
Chairman of the District Library Planning Committee
Tecumseh District Library Board Member for eight years