Royal Oak library millage to appear on Aug. 2 ballot

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 13, 2022

File photo by Patricia O'Blenes


ROYAL OAK — On Aug. 2, Royal Oak voters will decide a millage proposal for the Royal Oak Public Library.

In November 2003, Royal Oak voters approved a library millage of 1 mill, which resulted in a 0.8837-mill levy that will expire this year. The library is now requesting approval to renew the 0.8837-mill levy and add a 0.1163-mill levy to override a Headlee Amendment rollback and return the levied amount to 1 mill.

Both the renewal and new millage, if approved, will be levied for a 10-year period. In the first year, the millage will generate an estimated $3.2 million for the library.

On April 4, the Royal Oak Library Board of Trustees approved the following ballot language:

“Shall the City of Royal Oak, Oakland County, Michigan, be authorized to levy a millage annually in an amount not to exceed 1.0 mill ($1.00 on each $1,000 of taxable value), of which .8837 mill is a renewal of the previously authorized millage that expires in 2022 and .1163 mill is new additional millage, against all taxable property within the City for a period of ten (10) years, 2023 to 2032 inclusive, for the purpose of operating, maintaining and equipping the Royal Oak Public Library and for all other library purposes authorized by law? The estimate of the revenue the City will collect in the first year of levy (2023) if the millage is approved is approximately $3,266,000. By law, revenue from the millage will be disbursed to the Royal Oak Public Library and a portion of the revenue from the millage may be subject to capture by the City of Royal Oak Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.”

On April 11, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously approved the ballot language for the Aug. 2 election.

ROPL Director Sandy Irwin said the library does not receive any money from the city’s general fund, so it is supported primarily through the millage, as well as through fees and fines, grants, donations, and fundraisers by the Friends of the Royal Oak Public Library.

The millage supports the library’s programming, operating expenses, collections, equipment, and ongoing maintenance of the building, which opened in April 1962, according to the library.

“We just started in-person programs in June,” Irwin said. “We’re very excited to have people back in person.”

If approved, the millage will help the library purchase materials for print and digital collections; maintain the building and its systems, including concrete and railing repairs; replace the roof; continue access to databases; connect with the community outside the building, including those who are homebound and students in local schools; and pay for staffing.

As stated in the ballot language, “a portion of the revenue from the millage may be subject to capture by the City of Royal Oak Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.” Brownfields are properties that are being redeveloped but may require some environmental remediation, such as former gas stations.

According to the city, all mill levies — not just the library’s — are subject to brownfield tax increment financing. In 2021, $17,068 of the library’s millage supported brownfields, and the library’s overall 2021 budget was $3,180,500.

City Manager Paul Brake said money collected from the library’s millage that supported brownfields was less than half of 1% of the total amount levied last year.

“Homeowners and taxpayers will not be paying toward brownfield redevelopment,” Brake said. “Commercial properties that have a brownfield are paying toward the captured portion only to reimburse the brownfield redevelopment that has occurred at that site.”

He added that the city has about nine remaining brownfield redevelopment projects that are being reimbursed for cleanup costs.

“It’s important for the library to be self-sustaining, to not only cover the costs but really to meet the changing demands that are made of libraries,” Brake said. “Library services are more than checking out books. They include children’s programs to a maker space where you can rent power equipment and everything imaginable.”

For more information, call the Royal Oak Public Library at (248) 246-3700 or visit