Nessa, a Celtic fusion band, performs before a packed room at the Troy Public Library March 10. There is a program or activity scheduled at the library every day the library is open in March.

Nessa, a Celtic fusion band, performs before a packed room at the Troy Public Library March 10. There is a program or activity scheduled at the library every day the library is open in March.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Troy City Council will explore cost to open library seven days

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published March 13, 2018

TROY — The Troy City Council will talk about operating the library seven days a week as part of the budget process, although the council disagreed on how that would happen. 

Councilman Ethan Baker brought the matter forward at the March 5 meeting under council referrals. He proposed a resolution to direct then-City Manager Brian Kischnick to present options on how to operate the library seven days a week as part of the city’s budget process. The resolution also states that the council deems “it a priority to open the Troy Public Library seven days a week and to supplement the library millage with general fund monies if necessary without a tax increase of any kind to the residents of Troy.”

Baker said he was willing to amend the latter portion if it would have facilitated further discussion, but the resolution failed.

Mayor Dane Slater, Mayor Pro Tem Edna Abrahim, and Councilmen Ed Pennington and Dave Henderson opposed the measure. 

Baker and Councilman David Hamilton supported it. Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek was absent. 

Though the resolution was voted down, the council indicated that the library funding will be discussed as part of the city’s budget process.

“There’s something (at the library) for every single day in March, except for Fridays, because we’re closed on Fridays,” Baker said. “There’s definitely a need for more time at the library.

“I believe we are at a time in our community where the residents are interested in potentially supplementing the library millage to have the library open on Fridays,” Baker said. “I think there’s broad community support to investing more in our library by having it open on Fridays.”

Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ estimated in a written response to the council that it would cost between $400,000 and $500,000 per year to have Friday service. 

The 2017-18 city budget for the library is $3.86 million. 

Russ explained to C & G Newspapers via email that she provided statistics on the budget from the last time the library was open seven days a week — for an annual budget of $3.68 million in 2009-10 — and how costs would increase next year for operating supplies, office supplies, custodial service, building maintenance, IT coverage, utilities, and “the big one: staff costs. I would have to hire more people,” she said. 

Ninety percent of the library staff is part time. Russ said she would recommend hiring more full-time staff if the library were to open seven days.

“I have supervisors who supervise 16-plus people. To add more part-time staff and have one person directly supervise 20 or more people is not good for communications, consistency and customer service,” Russ said. 

“I don’t think it’s wrong of us to explore whether there’s interest in doing this,” Baker said. He noted that he’s heard residents say they’d like a seven-day library “consistently — more than any other issue.” 

 

Dedicated library millage 
In November 2015, Troy voters approved a renewal of a 0.7-mill levy for five years dedicated to funding the Troy Public Library with 8,433 yes votes and 3,492 no votes. Voters first approved the library millage in August 2011, when 58 percent of voters approved it. 

Slater said he supports the creation of a library millage to fund the operation seven days a week, overseen by a library board, which voters opposed in 2010 amid three similarly worded proposals, which Slater said confused voters. 

“If somebody wants to initiate that again, I am with you 100 percent. It (operating seven days) shouldn’t be done by supplementing a millage the people of the city of Troy approved.” 

Slater added that he thinks the question of increasing the current 0.7 mill to fund the library for seven days should be put to the voters, rather than taking money from the general fund balance. He said he supports a seven-day library, but he said it should be brought up during budget study sessions, rather than as a council referral item. 

The Baldwin Public Library, in Birmingham; the Bloomfield Township Library; and the Novi Public Library are open on Sundays. 

The Rochester Hills Public Library, the Royal Oak Public Library, the Southfield Public Library and the Sterling Heights Public Library are open on Sundays during the school year. 

Abrahim said that it’s not possible to operate the library seven days a week with the current millage and that she couldn’t support the resolution. 

“I love the library,” Abrahim said. “But I have to be mindful of other things the community wants,” such as more police, trails and pathways, she said. “I need to understand what the budget trade-offs are with police, with trails and pathways, with roads, our infrastructure.”

“The way I see this resolution, it’s just presenting viable options to do this. It’s not necessarily binding us to anything,” Hamilton said. “All we’re directing the city manager to do is provide those options.” 

“We will talk about this at the budget hearing,” Slater said.

Kischnick told C & G Newspapers on March 8 that the city’s Financial Ideas Team was scheduled to meet March 12 to discuss various items, including the costs and feasibility of operating the library for seven days. 

He said that city staff will use information gleaned from the Financial Ideas Team discussions for the budget process. The Financial Ideas Team started in late 2014 and comprises about 15 residents from various segments of the community.