TDL to seek 1.35 mills in May election
Vital funding for the Tecumseh District Library (TDL) will be put before voters in an upcoming spring election as campaign organizers begin to promote a 1.35 millage request.On May 7, two separate proposals will appear on the election ballot: one for renewal of 1.15 mills and the other for an additional .2 mills, both for 10 years.The additional .2 mills will add approximately $100,000 in needed annual revenue to offset declines in the district’s tax base and increases in expenses, according to campaign chairperson Anne Walker.Walker, a longtime supporter of the library, said the millage is necessary to maintain the facilty and services, which have grown substantially in the past decade under the administration of TDL Director Gayle Hazelbaker.The cost of the millage to a property owner for a home with a market value of $100,000 would be $67.50, an increase of $10.14 annually if both proposals pass.In the current budget, the library receives 82 percent of its funding from district property taxes, or $631,729. The amount would increase to $738,735 under the new 1.35 millage rate.The library district includes the City of Tecumseh as well as the entire Tecumseh School District, with the exception of Clinton Township.The challenges of maintaining the library under the existing 1.15 mills isn’t isolated to lower property values and a declining tax base, according to Walker.As revenues for the library have declined, TDL has not made a request for additional funding since the last millage vote in 2003.“Like the challenge to all businesses, expenses are going up,” Walker said, noting without additional funding, the library will be unable to meet the growing needs of the district.Statistics provided by the library show that visits to the facility nearly doubled in the past nine years from 76,394 in 2003 to 144,408 in 2012.Circulation of books and other media jumped 54 percent from 96,579 to 149,104 in the same period.Other considerable increases were recorded in reference transactions and inter-library loans.Organizers for the campaign are promoting the Tecumseh District Library as an important resource for the community for both learning and entertainment, with access to computers and one-on-one training. The number of programs offered at TDL increased from 93 in 2003 to 245 in 2012, an increase of 163 percent. While an increase in participation in these programs by children and teens was substantial, the increase in attendance for adult programs grew from 64 to 3,632, according to records.Hazelbaker said cuts and cost saving measures included: elimination of four staff positions; no wage increases since 2008; increased percentage of sharing healthcare costs; and a reduction of staff training by 50 percent.Other cost cutting measures were: reduced book budget by 33 percent (fewer books, DVDs, video games purchased); eliminated programing budget (donations and fundraising efforts by the Friends of the Library paid programming costs); reduced technology budget over 40 percent (grants and Friends of Library supported technology upgrades); cut public relations and advertising costs 90 percent; and reduced office expenses 34 perent. The TDL will seek voter approval for the 1.15 millage renewal and .2 mills when polls open on May 7 at the Raisin Township Hall on Gady Road.