Harrison TownshipJune 28, 2012
State funds OK’d for Harrison Township
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on June 20 releases state funding for the Harrison Township Public Library, and its closest supporters have some hopeful plans on how to spend it.
House Bill 5573, now Public Act 191 of 2012, makes the township’s volunteer-run library eligible to access revenue from penal fines and civil infractions of local ordinances by commercial vehicles.
The bill was introduced by former Harrison Township supervisor and current state Rep. Anthony Forlini.
It enables a township board in a county with a population between 750,000 and 2 million to apply for state funding in some instances. Macomb County’s population is about 840,000. The range of population under the previous law is between 1 million and 2 million.
“The Macomb County Library ceased operations four years ago, and volunteers have been keeping the Harrison Township Public Library going through bake sales and overdue book fines,” said Forlini, R-Harrison Township. “With this public act, the Harrison Township Public Library can take advantage of monies already set aside for them. This is not an additional appropriation and will not take any money away from another local municipality or library.”
The Macomb County treasurer reports that it currently has $71,000 being held in escrow for Harrison Township, which would be released once the Library of Michigan certifies that the Harrison Township Library is eligible for the money. The treasurer also said the library’s annual revenue from fines would be about $22,000. The state constitution gives township libraries a portion of fines assessed when someone violates a state statute.
The township has been operating a volunteer-run library since 2009, and has a monthly budget of about $1,200, a majority of which is from selling books, said volunteer and founding library board member Marge Swiatkowski.
“This is a very exciting time for the library,” said Swiatkowski, who led a millage proposal for a new township library back in 2004. That attempt failed by a narrow margin, but it didn’t stop her or the many other supporters from getting a library. For the past three years they’ve utilized a space at township hall on L’Anse Creuse Road that had once been used for township-sponsored parties.
She said the funding would be helpful in purchasing new books or funding a new library building.
“We definitely need a bigger space,” she said.
Either way, the funding is welcome.
“Maybe now we won’t have to have so many bake sales. We’re really tired of baking to tell you the truth,” Swiatkowski said with a laugh. “We’ll still have those, just not as many. We know there are people who will miss them.”
Swiatkowski applauds Forlini and Snyder for their quick work drafting the bill and approving the public act. She had gone to Lansing a handful of times to listen to the hearings and was impressed with what she experienced.
“Forlini and his staff were so helpful and cared a lot about what they were doing,” she said.
And that is a nice thing to come back and tell all the other library volunteers who work without pay.
“I have such a great group of women working there,” Swiatkowski said. “I enjoy going there and seeing them operate. They all work hard and love what they’re doing.”
Forlini agrees, which makes his recent victory all the more sweet.
“The residents of our community owe a great deal of gratitude to all the volunteers that have gave countless hours in establishing and operating a library for all of us to enjoy,” Forlini said. “The services provided by the library will only get better now with additional monies.”
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