Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why a half-mill won't save the library

In 2008 the Troy Library's budget was about $4.6 million.
In 2009, it was about $3.8 million
In 2010, the budget was slashed down to $2.2 million.
As the city slashes budgets and continues to shrink the police dept (by 47 jobs over 3 years), they could just cut the libraries budget another chunk next year and keep it open, right?
No. That won't work.
Why?
Because the library has a certain threshold budget it has to maintain just to keep its doors open.

  • They have to be open 55 hours a week to get certain state funding.
  • Of this year's $2.2 million budget, $1.3 million goes toward the building--lights, building maintenance, computer.Internet operations, etc. The leftover goes to staff salaries.
  • A half-mill at today's rate would be about $2 million. Take away the $1.3 million and you'd have 700K left for staff.
  • But at next year's rate, property values go down some more, a half-mill only adds up to a $1.8 million and the city is losing more revenue than expected so they have to cut it more and voila--there's no money to keep the doors open.
  • And even if property taxes increase, it will take forever for a half-mill to get the library budget back up above $3 million. And with utility rates constantly climbing...well....
  • That is why Proposal 1 made so much sense. at .9885 mills, it would have started out a big budget, but shrunk down into the $3 million range, but the library would have been secure for 10 years. And, as a separate budget, the library would not have had to compete with public safety for funding--a competition it ultimately can't win.
A lot of people are claiming that a few dollars squeezed out of hither and yon are going to save the library, but that's not necessarily so.
If you save it at the bare minimum next year, the city's general fund is going to be even smaller  the following year.

We need a library that can be sustained. We need 1 mill.
I'll take this moment to reiterate that what has made Troy the laughing stock of SE Michigan is the City Charter Amendment back in 2008 that prevented the city council from being able to raise our millage as our property values, and taxes, plummeted, so they could sustain our city services. Now that we have to vote for every tax increase, the anti-taxers cheat to defeat every one. So all city council can do is slash, slash, slash.
For those of us who moved our families here for the schools, city amenities and services, this is a disaster.
I know anti-taxers are fine with strangling off city expenses. But those expenses are for US. Constantly voting against them may make you feel like you've given city council the finger, but it leaves every family with one less city amenity to utilize and shreds our property values.
That 2008 City Charter Amendment (Section 9.16.5)** will destroy this city if we don't overturn it or start getting some honest elections where the people's voices can truly be heard.

**from Troy City Charter:
B. TAX LEVY
Section 9.16 - Tax Levy; Limitations:
The Council shall raise annually by a general tax upon the real and personal property liable to taxation within the City such sums of money not to exceed in amount one percent of the assessed valuation of all such taxable property, as it shall deem necessary to defray all expenses and expenditures set forth in the budget and to pay all the liabilities of the City.
Section 9.16.5 - Millage Rate Levy Limitation: [changed in 2008 by a "citizens initiative" encouraged by Martin Howrylak"
The Council shall not increase the millage rate imposed pursuant to Section 9.16 of this charter above a current rate actually imposed, levied, and collected unless the increased rate shall be first approved by a majority of the City electors voting on the question.

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the good work....as a long time election pundit I am sure you are on the right track. The voters at least saw through the sham that was the TCU 3 fraudulent ballot proposals. For Frank Howrylak to say that he think the voters said anything else is ridiculous. Martin is a plague on this city and hopefully he will turn in his resignation letter once more and this time they will not give it back to him.

    Randy Husk
    Former Troy Councilman (18 years)

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