Harrison Township voters approve library millage increase

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published November 21, 2022


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township Public Library has been given a revenue boost by township voters who elected to fund a library millage renewal with an increase for the next 10 years.

On Nov. 8, voters approved the millage at a rate of 0.8 mills. That amounts to 80 cents on each $1,000 of taxable property value.

“We couldn’t be more excited over here at the library that the millage passed,” said Melissa Goins, director of the Harrison Township Public Library.

The 0.8 mills rate is a 60% increase over the prior rate of 0.5 mills and was approved by 57.1% of voting residents, while 42.9% voted against the increase. Data from the office of the Macomb County clerk show 11,775 Harrison Township residents voted on the millage, nearly 79% of the township’s over-18 population, as estimated by the United States Census Bureau.

Had the request for a renewal with an increase failed this year, plans were in the works to try again in 2024. A special election in 2023 would require the library to pay for the election.

“We’ve had millage failures in the past, so we just try to learn from those mistakes and conducted our needs assessment and our public surveys and tried to make sure that we truly were meeting the needs of the community,” Goins said. “And I think the fact that the millage passed with almost 60% is a good indicator that we are hitting that mark.”

The library was seeking increased funding to provide improved and new services. Public outreach showed residents wanted longer hours (earlier opening, later closing), technology improvements, expanded programming for children and seniors, and more spaces for studying and working at the library. While the library will not receive the increased funds until next year, groundwork is being laid for the additions and expansions to come.

“I am hoping that we will be able to hire some staff and be able to have new operating hours fairly quickly,” Goins said. “I think technology upgrades, and of course, service hours are coming first. Of course, the study pods are going to take a little more planning and work, so those will come later on down the line, but we’ll definitely be able to hire staff and be open more hours and get programs up and running fairly quickly.”

And while the library looks forward to a future with more resources, Goins believes its performance with the old millage amount is why voters approved the higher millage.

“I think (people approved the millage) because we are meeting the needs of the community,” Goins said. “We have proven our value in the community and that we have a lot to offer that our community needs, so I think it is just the community recognizing the value that we have to offer.”


Elsewhere on the ballot
The millage was not the only library-related item on the ballot. Library board member Blake Hurley was elected to the board with 6,814 votes in an uncontested race. Hurley was appointed to the board following a member’s resignation and will be up for re-election in 2024.

Looking at the election overall, Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit says voting occurred without issue.

“In 2020, we were still learning how to adapt to no-reason absentee voting, and so I think we were able to learn our lessons and be better prepared for this election,” Wit said.

While the election was the culmination of practice and lessons driven by 2018’s ballot-reforming Proposal 3, the passage of 2022’s Proposal 2 means the clerk’s office will need to adapt to longer voting periods.

“We get to relearn what we thought we already knew and prepare for a whole set of new rules,” Wit said. “With nine days of early voting, it is going to really impact how we do elections. There’s a lot of prep work to do to get ready to implement what the voters decided on.”

The biggest change Wit expects from Proposal 2 are the extra voting days, with the ballot-casting experience remaining the same.

Wit estimates that 60% of eligible voters participated overall in the election. The Harrison Township Clerk’s Office has jurisdiction over elections in the township including Selfridge Air National Guard Base.