District Library: Give voters a chance 2014.07.09

After attending last week's District Library Planning Committee meeting, we wonder if area citizens will ever have the opportunity to vote on the issue. With city funding falling short, the Stair Public Library board wants to bring the townships into the mix to help support the library that serves far more than only city residents.

A majority vote from those served by the library is needed to pass a millage, but before that can be decided, several steps are needed, and one is recommended by the Library of Michigan—that all parties sign a resolution to create a District Library Agreement.

First, the District Library Planning Committee needs to write a District Library Agreement and make decisions about issues such as the make-up of the new board of directors. Next, that agreement must be approved by the library board, the City of Morenci and the Seneca and Medina Township boards. 

The new district library board would determine a millage rate and the length of time that the levy would last. Finally, a vote of the people would decide the fate of the effort.

But after four meetings, the parties still haven’t signed the resolution to create the Agreement and discussion slogs forward without a lot of progress.

Elected representatives in Lansing are always proud to cut taxes, and more cuts are on the horizon. Constituents generally cheer the cuts without considering the consequences—financially troubled schools, roads and bridges in terrible shape, libraries without adequate funding, law enforcement services scaled back. Taxpayers face reduced services and are often asked to fill the shortfalls, as in the case of the district library.

Are there township residents who have no use for the library? Of course. There are residents of Morenci who never use the facility, either, but it's supported for the greater good of the area.

There's certainly no guarantee that a district library millage would pass if placed on the ballot. Not everyone is willing to vote "yes" for an increase of taxes, not even for something as popular as the library. But let's at least allow people a vote on the issue and face the consequences of the electorate's decision.