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Council OKs proposal to put library millage renewal on ballot Nov. 8

By: Maria Allard | Advertiser Times | Published January 11, 2016

 The Harper Woods Public Library offers programs every month for residents of all ages.

The Harper Woods Public Library offers programs every month for residents of all ages.

Photo by Deb Jacques

HARPER WOODS — Taxpayers will be asked to support the Harper Woods Public Library with a millage renewal that will come to the polls this November.

At the Jan. 4 City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously on a resolution to place the millage renewal on the ballot during the Nov. 8 election.

The millage renewal is not a new tax. It is a renewal of the library millage that voters approved in 2010, which expires in 2017.

If passed, the library millage renewal will allow the city of Harper Woods to renew up to 1 mill — $1 on each $1,000 of taxable value — from the years 2017 through 2024 on property taxes to provide funds for the purpose of operating the Harper Woods Public Library.

According to information included in the Jan. 4 City Council packet, Harper Woods would collect approximately $196,762 for the Harper Woods library fund if the millage was levied in the 2017 tax year.

If passed, the renewal would become effective Jan. 1, 2017, for seven years. According to City Manager Randolph Skotarczyk, if the renewal passes, it will cost the average taxpayer $34 a year. 

When the library millage passed in 2010, Skotarczyk said it cost the average taxpayer $58 a year. But because taxable values for commercial properties have decreased over the years, it is “worth a lot less than it used to be,” Skotarczyk said.

If the renewal fails, library staff will be forced to make budget cuts. 

“The library really is one of our very special places,” Skotarczyk said. “It’s a wonderful library. It’s a great asset and tool for us to use. This minor expense is something I strongly hope (residents) pass and agree with.” 

Prior to the council vote, Library Director Kristen Valyi-Hax and Harper Woods Library Board of Trustees member Mary Kingston addressed the council regarding the amenities the library offers. 

“Your tax dollars pay for access to over 45,000 books, magazines, DVDs and other items just in our library. That increases to over 2 million items based on our membership in the Suburban Library Cooperative,” Valyi-Hax said. “We offer electronic resources, such as e-books, downloadable music, electronic magazines and research databases. We have Internet and wireless access, and we provide 30 computers for people to apply for jobs, finish classwork, email and even look at social media.”

In addition, the library offers programs every month for residents of all ages. That includes family movie nights, tot times, after-school activities, book clubs, estate planning information sessions and cooking. There also is a community room available.

“Best of all, we have a dedicated and knowledgeable staff who are happy to help every patron who comes in,” Valyi-Hax said. “The library board and staff are committed to continuing the tradition of excellent service to the city of Harper Woods. Supporting our request to place this millage question on the November ballot will help us to do so.”

According to Valyi-Hax, the Harper Woods Public Library is a Class IV library. The designation comes from the Library of Michigan, and it is based on the population that the library serves. Class IV libraries serve populations from 12,000 to 25,999 residents. The Harper Woods Public Library currently serves 14,236 residents.