Fraser residents will consider a new millage for the community’s public library on Aug. 2.

Fraser residents will consider a new millage for the community’s public library on Aug. 2.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Fraser residents to vote on library millage

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published July 13, 2022


FRASER — On Tuesday, Aug. 2, Fraser residents will get to vote on a new millage supporting the Fraser Public Library. It would replace a previous millage that has remained unchanged since 1963.

“The millage provides funding for your Fraser library through a property tax on the residents of Fraser,” explained Library Marketing Director Fatima Syed. “The library began at its inception with 1 mill in perpetuity. The funding needs of the library have increased since 1963, so the library is asking the citizens of Fraser to increase the funding by one more mill. Two mills is the maximum allowed by law for libraries in Michigan, so we will be fully funded if this millage passes.”

Library staff are hoping the public will see why the new millage is necessary.

“This is a new millage. The rate is 1 mill, and it will run for 20 years,” said Syed. “The millage will provide for about half of the budget. … If the millage is not approved, the library will need to move from our current building into a rented property that will be smaller and provide fewer services. Our current budget does not include enough money to repair and maintain this older building, and rent for commercial spaces in Fraser is such that we will not be able to afford even as much space as we currently enjoy.”

“A thriving library in a community offers continuing education and recreation for all community members at all stages of life,” added Library Director Lorena McDowell. “The library is a community space that is safe, free and open to all. Moreover, a thriving library has been shown to increase the desirability of a community and the housing values in the area.”

The additional funding that the new millage would provide would primarily be used for building issues and technology updates.

“Seventy-five percent of this millage will be used for building issues,” said Syed. “Our current building is owned by the city of Fraser and is badly in need of repair. It also lacks adequate parking for us to provide the services that are expected of a modern library. Our first choice is to move to a larger building. If the millage passes but we are not able to purchase an appropriate building in Fraser, our second choice is to purchase our current building from the city and refurbish and build onto the current building. … The other 25% will be used to update our technology and to provide more programming for patrons, especially the youth of Fraser.”

Syed said that the millage is warranted when comparing the Fraser library to others of comparable size.

“For those wondering how Fraser Public Library compares to libraries in other communities, we can look at data for other Class 4 libraries in our area,” she said. “Libraries in Michigan are classified by the size of the communities they serve. Class 4 libraries serve communities of 12,000 to 25,999 residents and there are 17 of them in the Macomb/Oakland/Wayne county region. Of these 17 libraries, we are among the three with funding in the half-million dollars a year range. Four others have funding levels (serving) between (8,000 and 9,000 residents) while all of the remaining libraries have budgets from 1 (million) to 2.2 million annually. Looking at these numbers, one can see that Fraser Public Library is underfunded and has been for many years.”

Syed said that, so far, the response she has heard to the millage proposal has been positive.

“All the chatter I’ve seen on social media has been positive. I am not aware of any large pushback, although there have been a few individuals who feel that they already pay too much in property taxes,” she said. “No one has formed a ‘no’ committee. When we commissioned a survey of Fraser voters, about two-thirds of them indicated willingness to vote for the millage.”

Syed stressed the benefits of supporting local libraries.

“According to the latest census data, 8.1% of Fraser households do not have a computer and 12.3% of Fraser households do not have high-speed internet access. Many of these residents rely on the public library for internet and computers. That’s about 1 in 8 of our residents,” Syed wrote in an email. “Fraser residents have also expressed a desire for the library to provide study rooms, more children’s and teen classes and events, meeting rooms, and access to databases that would otherwise be unaffordable to many individuals. Additionally, having a library in a community has been shown to raise property values and provide a community gathering place where people can meet others with similar interests through book clubs, various classes and events like craft nights, as well as children’s programming where not only are the children introduced to literature at a young age, but parents can meet others in their area with children. Your investment in the Fraser library will benefit the entire community — not just library patrons.”