Township to elect library board Nov. 8

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published October 22, 2016

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — For the first time since the 10-year library millage passed in 2014, voters in Harrison Township will be electing a library board come Nov. 8.

The six-member board will be responsible for the oversight and general direction of the library, said Harrison Township Public Library Director Dan Hutchins.

The library board will also have authority over the library’s budget and will be responsible for appointing a library director, who runs the day-to-day operations of the library with oversight from the board.

“The library has been fortunate that current and likely future members of the library board are individuals who are committed to public service,” Hutchins said. “Importantly, they all bring various areas of expertise to the board. One current member worked for many years in the insurance industry; another is currently employed on city government. As the library is an educational institution, we’re also fortunate that a number of current board members have worked or are currently employed in public education. (And) a likely future board member has a background in accounting.”

Six candidates are running for the six open four-year terms. They are current appointed members Jim Bilen, John Da Va, Dianne Marvaso and Linda Silvonen, as well as longtime library volunteers Linda Pillow and Carole Wolf.

Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit said this year’s general election is already looking like a record-high one, with 4,385 absentee ballots sent out. There are 20,439 registered voters in Harrison Township.

“So absentee ballots at this point represent over 21 percent turnout for the election,” Wit said.

The library board members receive no compensation for serving. The first library board members — who finish their terms before the November election — were appointed by the Harrison Township Board of Trustees as the millage passed in between elections.

The millage passed in August of 2014, and the library began receiving tax dollars from the levied millage in 2015. Hutchins said the library receives the vast majority of its funding from the millage. In 2015, the library received $418,623 from the millage. In 2016, the library received $429,202. In 2017, the library expects to receive $429,138.

Hutchins explained that the library also receives small amounts from other sources. Per state law, the library receives a portion of local traffic tickets collected (penal fines), which is usually $21,000-$23,000 per year. The library began receiving penal fines in 2012.

In 2016, the library qualified for the first time to receive state aid funds from the Library of Michigan, a unit of the Michigan Department of Education. The amount of state aid varies from year to year, according to the state budget, and is allocated according to the population of the respective township. In 2016, the Harrison Township Public Library received $15,972 in state aid payments, Hutchins said.

“The library has done a good job of managing these resources wisely,” he said. “For instance, the average Michigan public library spends 64 percent of its annual budget on staffing costs, and the Harrison Township Public Library spends only 32 percent — half the statewide average.”

Hutchins, who was hired shortly after the millage passed, said circulation has increased by 60 percent since September 2015.

He said there are no current plans to move from the current location adjacent to Rosso Hall.

“The library has no plans to expand or to move at this time,” he said. “The library is committed to demonstrating to the people of Harrison Township that it is a good steward of their tax dollars. The library may consider moving in three to five years, after it has saved sufficient funds to do so.”

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