Passing a millage is the final step in re-forming as a District Library, a process we began in 2014.
Feedback from a recent community survey concerning Library services guided the decision by our Board of Trustees’ to propose a millage rate of 3.5 mills for 10 years starting in 2017 for voters to decide on the August 2 primary election. This new millage rate would replace the rate of 2.0 mils previously approved by citizens in 2007.
Why The Increase
In May of 2014, FADL was forced to cut expenditures by decreasing operating hours, closing on Fridays and reducing Saturday hours. The aim was to reduce a considerable deficit created by the 2008 housing market crash’s impact upon local property values (the taxes from which provide the library with its main source of revenue). While revenue has dropped due to the lasting effects of the Great Recession, the Library must make annual payments for the bond that was taken to do a major building renovation, which was completed in 2010. The bond repayment schedule is fixed, with payments increasing every year. As a result, the library’s net revenue available for operations has fallen 35% since 2009.
What The New Rate Can Achieve
The new millage will restore or augment library services and materials that have been cut or reduced. While the Board believes libraries are more important to communities than ever, their case is reinforced by recent survey responses. Beyond increasing hours, patrons surveyed indicated that they want FADL to provide:
➤ More on-demand digital resources like eBooks, audiobooks, online learning tools and streaming video.
➤ More literacy programs for pre-K-12th grade students.
➤ Upgraded computer work stations for children and adults
➤ The new millage would also assure retaining and attracting professional, customer-service driven staff
Replacing previous millage rate would cost…
The current rate, originally approved by voters as 2.0 mills but rolled back to 1.88 due to the Headlee Amendment, costs the average homeowner $113/year (or $9.42/month), but an increase of 1.62 mills raises that to $210/year (or $17.50/month). This increase of only $97 for the whole year or $8/month for the average Ferndale household.
Why the Ferndale Area District Library matters…
The Ferndale Library dependably serves as a place to relax and discover, a laboratory for learning, a haven for homework completion, and an outlet for professional development. The Ferndale Library also is helping to close the digital divide for its daily visitors as an Internet access hub, (15% of the U.S. population is not connected to the internet). Additionally, story hours and book clubs for kids of all ages (and their families) ameliorate literacy rates, while monthly music concerts and art exhibitions connect community members and organizations to local artists. Weekly programming brings authors, professors, Senators and Representatives in for talks that cultivate further opportunities to connect, educate and enrich the community.
On top of all that, the library circulated nearly 170,000 books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, graphic novels, reference material, history books, science books, literature, periodicals in 2015, and answered approximately 50,000 reference questions.
Library Director Jessica Keyser believes the new millage will enable the Library to better meet the needs of the community. “We have keep hearing that the Library is an anchor for the downtown and a vital resource for the community. We want to ensure that the Library will be sustainable now and in the future.”
Library Board Vice President Monique Herzig describes the challenges of providing both traditional and cutting-edge services that the community demands. She says, “In reviewing the results of our community survey, we weren’t surprised that people want access to more digital media, but what did surprise me is that people still want to see more books in the stacks. We can’t get more books if we don’t have staff to select them. And people can’t get the books in their hands if we don’t have staff to keep the doors open. We must have adequate funding to make this happen.”
We asked folks what they wanted and the answer came back: MORE!
- Restore and increase hours library is open to the public
- New millage will cost average homeowner in Ferndale $210/year, or $17.50/month total
- Current rate=1.96 ($117/year or $9.80/month)
- The new millage will restore or augment services and materials that have been cut or reduced
- More on-demand, digital resources, including e-books, audiobooks, online learning tools and streaming video available 24/7
- More literacy programs for pre-K-12th grade students
- Upgraded computer work stations for children and adults
- Retain and attract professional, customer-driven staff
Election Day is August 2, 2016