An important measure on the November 5th ballot is a Renewal Millage Proposal for the Public Libraries of Saginaw, which would not exceed 1.2983 mills (1.2983 for each $1,000 of taxable property value) for a period of 10 years. The millage is expected to provide revenues of $943,500 in the first year of levy.
To the extent required by law, a portion of the revenues from this millage (approximately 5.7% in the first year of the levy) will be captured by or disbursed to certain local authorities for authorized purposes. The following local authorities presently capture or receive disbursements of a portion of the millage of the Public Libraries of Saginaw to the extent required by law: The Downtown Development Authorities of the City of Saginaw and Kochville Township, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities of the City of Saginaw and Saginaw County, and the Saginaw County Land Bank Fast Track Authority.
According to Saginaw Public Library Director Trish Burns, this renewal is operating money. “It goes towards materials, upkeep of the buildings, programs, employees, and supplies. We have 2.7 mills in perpetuity and the 1.2983 renewal provides over $900,000 in revenue that would need to be cut,” she explains. “In short, one third of our revenue would disappear. As it stands now, we will have to make hard budget decisions in years to come because of decreased property taxes, so to lose the renewal would be even more devastating.”
When asked about goals and directions she is striving to guide the library towards over the next several years, Burns feels it important the library system be a reflection of the community it serves. “We just updated our strategic plan and have three main directions with a number of initiatives falling under each of them.”
“Our major strategic directions are to a) bring people together; b) support young people; and c) highlight the positives of the Saginaw community. Within those directions we want to continue scanning our community to identify needs that we can help with. As an example, we recognized that we have patrons who often ask questions about different legal topics, since they can't necessarily afford an attorney. In response, we began working with the Saginaw Bar Association to do a series of programs at the libraries where patrons can ask questions for free and those programs have been very well received.”
The Public Libraries of Saginaw became a district library back in 1994 and their voting boundaries are the same as the school district, which includes the City of Saginaw, the township of Kochville, and the City of Zilwaukee. “This is often confusing,” notes Burns, “as many people think that all libraries in the county are under the same millage. Actually, the four libraries in the City of Saginaw - Butman-Fish, Claytor, Wickes and Hoyt are the ones funded by this millage. Zauel Library in Saginaw Township contracts with us and pays out of their general fund, so they do not receive any funds from this millage, nor do they vote on it.”
“Nearly 50% of the residents we serve have library cards and our libraries are heavily used every day,” emphasizes Burns. “We have more than 1,400 items checked out and over 1,000 people physically walking into the buildings, with more than 500 people using the computers each day. Again, these numbers are daily numbers, which is pretty amazing. Most businesses would be thrilled with that sort of use.”
“Because the millage is for operating money, it means that whether it funds books, programs, buildings or people, it has an immediate and direct effect on library services. Simply put, if the millage fails, buildings, services, books and people would be drastically cut.”
“It is incumbent upon us as citizens to exercise our right to vote,” concludes Burns. “Whether you agree or disagree with the politics involved in any given election, your vote is important in any election.”