Saturday, October 30, 2010

MONDAY ALERT: Councilman Howrylak's Ethics hearing 10am

Looking at the Troy City Council Code of Ethics, which you can read here I do see the one that Mr. Howrylak appears to have breached.
"As a member of Troy City Council, I will: Recognize that an individual council member has no authority to speak or act for council."
I was at a recent meeting at which Mary Kerwin followed that rule and said something like, she did not intend to speak for council but this is the kind of thing we've done in the past and may likely do in the future.
In Mr. Howrylak's letter he writes "The current library facility, books, computers, etc. are and will be property of the City of Troy. Therefore any new library district will need to find a new building, buy books, computers, etc."
He says this as fact. 
And it is not a fact.
I have been in countless meetings, both city council and Proposal 1 related, where responsible people say that nothing is guaranteed, the new library board has to be in place and then negotiations have to occur and then city council has to vote. This is how the decisions on the library assets will be made.
By claiming he knows how these negotiations will go and how council will decide he is speaking for all of city council.
The truth is he doesn't know what will happen to the assets.
The right thing to do, if Proposal 1 passes, is of course to let the people of Troy transfer the assets of the city department public library, that will close in June of 2011, to the new Independent Public Library. The assets do not belong to Mr. Howrylak, nor to city council. They were purchased with the PEOPLE'S money.
No doubt Mr. Howrylak believes he can fool uninformed voters into voting against our library.
Please vote yes on Proposal 1.

Who is funding both sides of the Library Proposal 1 campaign?

You can see the legal, public details of the campaigns at the Oakland County Courts Website.
The Pro-Proposal 1, or Citizens to Save the Troy Public Library (CSTPL) folks' records are here.
The Anti-Proposal 1, or Troy Citizens United (TCU) folks' records are here.
The facts that are notable to me are:

  1. The Pro-Prop 1 folks have raised $33,000 to the TCU's $3,700. The pro-library Proposal people have raised nearly ten times as much.
  2. Of the Pro-Prop 1 $33,000, $15,000 came from the Friends of the Library, which is a legal donation. Most of the other $18,000 came from donations from Troy businesses, both large and small and private donations from Troy residents of $10 to $200 each. 
  3. Of the TCU's $3,700, well over half, or $2,100, came from 4 people. -- $1,000 came from John Witt, a leader of the TCU as described in countless newspaper articles, $500 from Robert Gosselin, a current Oakland County Commissioner and leader of the TCU, $200 from Frank Howrylak, councilman Howrylak's father and $400 from Deborah Debacker, also of the TCU. They have also BORROWED over $1,000.
It reminds me that following the February election, which TCU leaders told us was all about fiscal responsibility, that TCU was in the hole for $3,000 and had to beg to raise money AFTER the election.
So much for fiscal responsibility, especially the old saw -- don't spend money that you don't have.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Councilman Howrylak threatens to subvert the will of the people

In a move that has earned him a special city council meeting at which other members will apparently attempt to censure him, Troy City Councilman Martin Howrylak has sent out a letter to tell Troy residents to vote AGAINST a citizen-sponsored initiative to save our library.
According to coverage in the Oakland Press, his key point is as follows:
"The current library facility, books, computers, etc. are and will be property of the city of Troy, therefore, any new library district will need to find a building, buy books, computers, etc.,” and “property owners will thus end up paying twice for one library.”
But we have been told that other cities undergoing this transformation, simply lease these things to the new library or sell them for a dollar or some minor amount. Why would Mr. Howrylak threaten to allow our precious assets to mold away in a closed library? Why would he threaten to not release our assets to us, should Proposal 1 pass?
Perhaps Mr. Howrylak doesn't understand that the city's assets don't belong to him or to city council. They belong to the people. Who is he to stand in the people's way, to subvert our will if we choose to keep our library open with our own books and building?
Would he be happier if the books are never touched again and the building crumbles to bits, unused?
This is astonishing.
Of course he claims we can just sign the mandate, but here are the reasons it won't work.
Ever since I started working with the Citizens to Save the Troy Public Library I have been telling people there would be some October Surprise, some last-minute piece of ugly political garbage they would throw at us.
And here you have it, courtesy Mr. Martin Howrylak.
Please vote YES on Proposal 1 to Save our Library.
Write to all council people here to let them know how you feel about this.

More on the "Mandate Petition" to nowhere

City Councilman Martin Howrylak has sent a letter to Troy residents urging them to vote no on Proposal 1. The city council will meet on Monday to decide whether this was an unethical move on his part.
The purpose of this letter is apparently to advertise the "Mandate Petition" brought to you by Ed Kempen and the Troy Citizens United.
Let's take another look at it shall we?
Does it demand that the city re-open the library (next summer) at its current address, with its current staff and all the books intact? No. Does it ask for $3 million a year? $2 million a year? Any budget at all?
NO.
It asks for 55 hours. That's ALL. What the heck good is that going to do?
Here is the exact wording of the petition: "In order to assure access to quality local library service, the City of Troy shall operate and maintain a public library open to the public for not less than 55 hours each week."
Is it intentionally worthless just to act as a bait-and-switch so some people will sign the peition believing they are saving the library? I wish I knew. 
Remember this
1) The mandate is not on the November ballot, so it's irrelevant.
2) The city attorney seems to believe it may be non-binding because it goes after an administrative issue (hours open):
"According to one of the speakers at the September 20, 2010 City Council meeting, it appears that the petition proposes an ordinance that requires the City to operate a library for 55 hours per week. State Statute limits the initiative process to legislative matters, and does not allow for ballot questions on administrative matters. This distinction between administrative and legislative matters led to a Charter Amendment ballot proposal in November 2005, seeking authority for advisory ballot questions. If filed, City Council would determine if the proposal meets the legislative criteria. Council could decide to place an administrative proposal on the ballot as a non-binding advisory question. (source, City Attorney's Administrative Memorandum Sept. 29, 2010)
3) If it is correct language, but the city council turns it down, it will be required to go to an EXPENSIVE SPECIAL ELECTION within 150 days.
This is so exhausting. Why won't they simply let us have our library????? Have a fair election without all this interference?
My taxes have gone down $800 in two years. I can pony up $100 to get the library away from city council members like Martin Howyrlak.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Detroit News Gets It


October 23, 2010http://detnews.com/article/20101023/OPINION03/10230366
To some, Bloomfield Hills is a cheap rich town

Since 2003, voters in nation’s 4th wealthiest city won’t foot bill for library
LAURA BERMAN

On its website, the city of Bloomfield Hills touts itself as the nation's fourth wealthiest city, with 39 percent of its "stately homes" worth more than $1 million and an outstanding public school system.
What it fails to mention is that its elite, well-educated residents won't pay for an amenity enjoyed by 99.5 percent of Michigan residents: a neighborhood public library.
Since 2003, when Bloomfield Hills opted out of a 39-year relationship with the Bloomfield Township Public Library, its 4,000 residents (median household income: $172,000 a year) have been library-less by choice.
The same city that boasts of being home to executives and sports stars, exclusive country clubs and fabulous homes, has been going cheap on borrowing books.
City Commissioner Robert Toohey urges residents to avail themselves of the "free" libraries in nearby Birmingham and Bloomfield Township. If they need to check out books, residents can buy $200 library cards, with check-out privileges, from the Troy Public Library. Fewer than 100 do so, even though Bloomfield Hills reimburses the cost.
Many Bloomfield Hills residents of all political stripes say they feel like trespassers in the Bloomfield Township library, where study rooms and some programs are reserved for taxpayers. "We feel like freeloaders, so we no longer go there," said Erich Steinmueller, a retired Chrysler executive who lives within walking distance of the township library.
A ballot proposal to re-up the contract with Bloomfield Township in 2009 failed by 90 votes. Now on Nov. 2, residents will vote on a new library initiative — a millage proposal that will enable the city to reinstate Bloomfield Township library privileges.
It also will create an unpaid Bloomfield Hills library board with the authority to contract for library services. At 0.617 mill, the proposal would cost a family with a $750,000 home about $231 a year — about what township residents pay for their library.
Larry Neal, a 21-year-Bloomfield Hills resident and former president of the Michigan Library Association, jump-started the proposal in July.
"In six days, I had 122 people who just called me up and said: 'We think this is a shame' … they're embarrassed that they don't have a library," Neal said.
Robert Toohey, a lawyer who a few years ago unsuccessfully fought Bloomfield Township's library contract all the way to the state Supreme Court, is still hammering at his failed legal argument: He contends residents shouldn't have to pay any portion of the township library's operating costs, only the cost "to check out books."
"There are people here who think they don't need to pay for a library because they'll order what they want from Amazon. It's an arrogance," said Carol Young, a Bloomfield Hills library lover.
New city residents like Dr. Homa Hasnain are sometimes surprised to discover their beautiful new home in a prestigious community doesn't include access to the nearby library.
"I was shocked," said Hasnain, whose 9-year-old couldn't participate in summer reading programs. "We thought a library is automatic. … It feels like a punishment to my daughter."
In a recent op-ed piece in the Birmingham Observer & Eccentric, Bloomfield Hills resident Christine Zambricki, an opponent to the proposal, suggested that residents can use the excellent "local libraries" in Birmingham and Bloomfield Township.
In other words, they can use those lovely "free" libraries in other cities. Libraries supported by unenlightened taxpayers still clinging to 19th-century ideas about sharing knowledge and education.
Hey, times are tough, especially when your mansion isn't worth what it once was. But before fighting taxes became the only American principle that mattered, all kinds of people, wealthy and not, recognized the public library as one of the inspiring ideas that makes us American.
lberman@detnews.com.
(313) 222-2032
Laura Berman’s column runs Tuesday and Thursday in Metro.



© Copyright 2010 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Article in 10/27/10 Metro Times!!

Book battle

Drives to save Troy library are complicated enough without dirty tricks to confuse voters

Several weeks ago, Metro Times editorial intern Michelle Styczynski was outside the Troy Public Library when, as she describes it, "a young woman clenching onto a clipboard loaded with signatures approached me. She was asking library patrons as they walked past her, 'Do you want to save the library and not raise taxes?'"
Styczynski, although new to the reporting game, doesn't lack common sense. And the idea that the library could be saved without raising taxes, didn't quite seem to add up, so she began looking into the issue.
This is what she found:
Like many of Michigan's municipalities, Troy is struggling to make ends meet in the face of falling revenues. Back in February of this year, with the city looking for ways to deal with a projected budget shortfall reported to be $22 million, voters were asked to approve a 1.9-mil property tax increase. Without the hike, city officials said, the library would have to be closed in July 2011. Voters rejected the proposal, which would also have been used to keep open the city's museum and nature center, and to prevent layoffs, according to an article in the Oakland Press.
As a result, the budget ax began to swing. The City Council renegotiated employee contracts, cut back on service delivery, laid off employees, had employees take pay cuts and furlough days, contracted services to the private sector, and partnered with other communities.
(The nature center and museum lost funding, but because they are relatively small operations, nonprofits have been able to step in and pick up the slack.)
"Over the last 10 years," Councilwoman Robin Beltramini says, "Troy city government has been leaner than any of the surrounding communities both in terms of millage rate and in terms of employees per citizen."
Despite all of this, it wasn't enough to save the library.
Friends of the Troy Public Library, a nonprofit support group, has been a long-time partner with the library and initiated Proposal 1, a ballot measure that, if approved by voters on Nov. 2, would create an independent library that isn't reliant on the city's general fund for revenue. A tax hike of .9885 mils would be put in place for 10 years. It would raise $4.1 million for the library during its first year.
"Proposal 1 is the best option," says Rhonda Hendrickson, president of the Friends of the Troy Public Library, which has helped raise more than $1 million for the library between 1998 and 2010. Hendrickson says the proposal's passage will guarantee that the library will still be open next July.
But this is where things start to get complicated. Although the drive to "save the library without raising taxes" didn't collect enough signatures in time to get placed on the ballot, the effort to force the City Council to continue funding the library will continue, say its backers. In addition, three other millage increases designed to fund the library have been placed on the ballot by various citizen groups.
All three propose tax increases of between .95 and 1 mil. A .9885-mil increase, which Proposal 1 is asking for, would cost the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 about $99 per year.
So, why are so many similar proposals on the ballot? We've grown accustomed to seeing dirty tricks in political contests, but it's not often that underhanded tactics are used in something as straightforward as a vote to save something like a library. But that's exactly what some are saying has happened here.
Phillip Kwik, the head of the library's public services department, says these other proposals are not an effort to help the library but to confuse voters. Friends of the Troy Public Library's Hendrickson has been quoted in the press calling the three competing proposals "bogus."
One argument raised by supporters of Proposal 1 is that it is the only one of the four that provides a guaranteed source of funding for the library over the long term, since, Hendrickson contends, competing proposals have been drafted so as to make them difficult implement.
And according to the Oakland Press, the initiator of one of the alternative proposals is being investigated for fraud.
Attempts to contact the backers of these proposals were not successful.
Meanwhile, two groups, Troy Citizens United and Friends of the Library with No New Taxes are campaigning against all the proposals.
Ed Kempen, spokesperson for Friends of the Library with No New Taxes, says his group is working on a plan to require the City Council to fund a fully functioning library that would be open at least 55 hours a week. Exactly how that would be accomplished given the city's current financial straits is unclear.
Councilwoman Baltramini says that approach won't work. "There will not be enough money to reopen a full-service public library as we have become accustomed to," she says. "I, personally, do not see such an option as a viable one."
The public library in neighboring Rochester Hills has already gone through a similar transition to what Proposal 1 is suggesting. Rochester Hills has an independent library with a six-person elected board. That library operates at a similar millage rate to the Proposal 1's, and any increase would be voted on. Christine Hage, the Rochester Hills Library Director, says she prefers this kind of operation because board members are nonpartisan and unpaid, leaving them with no outside obligation.
According to Summer Minnick of the Michigan Municipal League, the problems facing the city of Troy aren't unique. She says that the reduction of property taxes and state shared revenue "is a one-two punch for communities across the state."
In other words, tough decisions regarding the fate of institutions like public libraries and other services once thought to be automatic are only likely to increase.
Asked what she thought of the issue after diving into it, Styczynski tells News Hits: "Watching a library go under because of a measly 100 bucks or so a year would be a terrible sight to witness."

TCU Deception #15 - Claiming the library budget will be up to $8.6 million per year -- Not true

Although on page 2 the authors of this 4-page mailer ask why the library will need $4.3 million per year, just a few inches down they wrote:
"Why do the need to spend up to $8.6 million per year?"
 They don't.

This is based on their 2 mill myth.
At 0.9885 mills, Proposal 1 will raise an estimated $4.3 million in the first fiscal year. After that, based on Oakland County estimates, our property values are expected to go down the next four years. That means that because the library budget will be based on mills, the dollar budget will go down.

From today's Oakland Press http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2010/10/26/news/local_news/doc4cc792dd8b5fa330428907.txt
Even if the library maintains the maximum 0.9885 mills, it is likely that tax revenues will decline over the years.
“The Oakland County tax department says there will be declines in taxable values through 2014,” Hendrickson said. “Any time taxable values go down, so will the money generated for the library.”
Even when taxable values rise, the library will be subject to the Headlee roll back, which caps taxable values at the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less.
“They get it upward and downward on the revenue streams,” Hendrickson said.
For much more information, go to http://www.savetroylibrary.org/

TCU Deception # 14 - The new library board would have the "power to issue debt"

Skimming down page 2, because I've already disproven these 'inaccuracies', here's another...
The TCU claims - 
"The Tax Increase Will: Add 6 more elected official with the power to run the library, issue debt and ask for more tax increases in the future."
Mostly true! Yay!
The true parts are that the library board will have the power to 1) run the library and 2) ask for more tax increases in the future.
Yes, they will run the library and they CAN ASK for tax increases after the 10-year period of this millage is over. That doesn't mean they will get them. Only the people can VOTE FOR AND APPROVE a millage for the library--which is obviously why we're having this election.

The Not True part
The board will NOT be able to ISSUE DEBT. They will have to work within their budget, which will be ruled by the millage amount = 0.9885 mills.

Deception #13 - 2 mills (again!)

"The tax increase will create a new taxing entity with the authority to raise city property taxes 30.6%. Legally 2 mills may be authorized."
Not true!
See http://keeptroystrong.blogspot.com/2010/10/troy-citizens-united-deception-1-2.html

TCU Deception #12 (on to page 2)

The mailer says--
"The tax increase will: Tax Troy Taxpayers an additional $4.3 million per year, even though the current library budget is $2.5 million"
TRUE, but the budget was $4.3 million in 2007-08 and was then slashed until now, at $2.26 million for this year, they had to cut most programs and close on Saturdays and lay off 30% of the staff.
What kind of library do you want?


Budgets for nearby libraries in 2009 were:
- Rochester Hills Public Library currently operates on a $4.72 million budget (2010)
- Baldwin Public Library (Birmingham), $3.84 million
- Bloomfield Township Public Library, $6.27 million
- Clawson Public Library, $497,800
- Madison Heights Public Library, $656,256
- Sterling Heights Public Library, $2.8 million

How much does a library cost?

From today's Oakland Press:
The Friends of the Troy Public Library drafted and have been campaigning for Proposal 1, which calls for a 10-year millage of 0.9885 mills that would generate about $4.28 million in revenue in the 2011-12 fiscal year. The citizen-initiated proposal petition was backed by over 300 signatures.
“We want to restore hours and programming,” said Rhonda Hendrickson, communications director of the Friends of the Troy Public Library. “We want it to open on Saturday again.”
The city of Troy cut the library’s budget from $3.66 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year to $2.26 million in 2010-11.
As a result, the library reduced its hours from 65 to 55 hours per week, made possible by a Saturday closure. The library also canceled most of its programming and laid off 11 of its 15 full-time employees and 29 of its 93 employees.
Since July 1, six part-time employees have left the library and have not been replaced.
“If we’re closing on July 1, who will want this job?” said Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ.
The library has a separate collection budget that was cut from $775,000 in 2009-10 to $425,000 in 2010-11.
“The collection purchases have had to be focused on the most critical materials: support for K-12 curriculum, homework help, and popular materials,” Russ said. “The library isn’t able to purchase as many copies of the popular materials, so patrons have to wait longer for these materials to circulate.”
While the $4.28 million request is $2.02 million more the library’s current budget, Russ said, “When people ask me, ‘How much will it cost to run the library?’ my response always is, ‘What kind of library do you want?’ I think the best way to determine what kind of budget is needed to staff and operate a library of the Troy Public Library’s size is to compare it to comparable libraries in comparable communities, such as Rochester Hills, Novi, Canton, Sterling Heights, Clinton-Macomb townships, etc.”
According to Russ, the Rochester Hills Public Library currently operates on a $4.72 million budget. The 2009 budgets for libraries in neighboring communities include:
- Baldwin Public Library (Birmingham), $3.84 million
- Bloomfield Township Public Library, $6.27 million
- Clawson Public Library, $497,800
- Madison Heights Public Library, $656,256
- Sterling Heights Public Library, $2.8 million
 The Troy Public Library had a $4.33 million budget in 2007-08 and a $3.89 million budget in 2008-09.
And why would Proposal 1 raise so much more than this year's budget (which was slashed in both of the last two budgets)?
However, Proposal 1’s allotment for an independent library includes more than restoring hours, materials and programming. “There are legal fees, human resources, building maintenance and other costs that have been absorbed in other line items of the city budget,” Hendrickson said. “We need a reserve fund to repair the loading dock that’s falling apart and there’s flooding in the basement. There are issues with an aging building.” 

How to Calculate Mills

Still don't understand how much Proposal 1 would cost you?
Try this from Wikipedia:
To calculate the property tax, the authority will multiply the assessed value of the property by the mill rate and then divide by 1,000. 

First, get your HPR Tax rate at http://troymi.gov/Taxes/. Just type in your address and all your tax info pops up.
Mine is 109,890. (That means Oakland County believes my property is worth about double, or $218,000.)
I multiply it by 0.9885 (Proposal 1's millage amount) and get 108,626.
I divide it by 1,000 and I get $108.62 per year, or $9.05 a month to keep the library open.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.

TCU Deception #11 - Using last year's budget numbers to argue this year's budget

Throughout the four-page mailer still being sent out to Troy residents, they back up their claim that the city is greedy and overspending with many facts and figures, including this:

"Instead of funding the library, Troy is wasting our money on pure luxuries and pet projects."
Then they first four items they list as proof are:
"-$9.4 million Transit Center to nowhere
-$0.8 million of undesignated park funds
-$2.0o million of undesignated City Hall grounds funds.
-$1.1 million of undesignated City Hall grounds funds."

Not True!
First of all, this old saw about the transit center. Say what you will about whether the U.S. is frighteningly behind the rest of the world when it comes to public transport and rail technology, but HINTING to the un-informed voter that the city is spending "$9.4 million" on the Transit Center is simply a flat-out lie. (If you can supply me with a kinder noun, let me know).

Here is the truth from the city's website:
In terms of funding for the Troy/Birmingham Intermodal Transit Facility, major funding for the project is provided by three federal grants awarded in 2010 totaling just over $10 million. The largest grant is $8,485,212 awarded under the 2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. This grant is administered by the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth awarded $250,000 to the City of Troy for LED lighting under an Energy Efficiency & Conservation LED Demonstration Grant. Also awarded was $1.3 million under the Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. House of Representatives Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. This earmark is administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
The City of Troy has allocated $1.3 million and the City of Birmingham has allocated $300,000 toward the Transit Center Project for a funding total of just over $11.6 million.
Source: http://troymi.gov/TransitCenter/JSMessage.pdf

It looks to me like the city worked their tails off for this and that it's something to be proud of. The city has 1.3 million invested and the state and federal government has put up over $9 million. When I tell people that they say, well fed money is our money too! So I ask, would you rather it go to Cleveland? or New York?

As for the next three items--$0.8 million of undesignated park funds, $2.0o million of undesignated City Hall grounds funds and $1.1 million of undesignated City Hall grounds funds--I was shocked when I read about this months ago, too. But look what I found out about our budget beginning this year, with the smallest effort on my part, by going to the city's online budget at http://troymi.gov/finance/Budget3yearDocument.pdf
Please know that this budget document utilizes all of the approximately $3.8 million that was reserved in non-essential Capital projects in order to delay lay-offs in the public safety area. This incorporates the trail system reserve of $2 million, park development reserve of $0.7 million and Civic Center reserve of $1.1 million.
So their TOP 4 examples are false!

These falsehoods coming into our mailboxes are from people who claim quite loudly that they are patriots.
What is patriotic about this--lying to guarantee the shuttering of our public library!?
I just don't understand...

Please vote YES on Proposal 1.

Playing chicken

I only wish that people who have supported TCU in the past, but know what kind of distorted campaign they are running would come forward and tell people.
The library issue has become a game of chicken between council and TCU, with the rest of our community stuck in the middle and our library hanging on the precipice of extinction.
Proposal 1 is not about the city manager or the mayor or the real estate lady from the TCU who claims home buyers don't care whether a community has a library. Let them fight on endlessly with each other.

Proposal 1 is about having, or not having, a library in Troy.
It is the only way to keep our library from closing next June.
Please vote YES on Proposal 1.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TCU Deception # 10 - If Prop 1 passes, it's too late to pass a budget so the library will close - No, no, no!

One of the latest stories by the no-taxes-at-any-cost-including-losing-our-library crowd is that a Michigan library law requires independent libraries to have their budgets completed by September before the next fiscal year and so, ipso-facto, it’s too late to budget for our new independent library so it can’t open on July 1, 2011.
This is not true. 
I have been at two city council meetings at which the city attorney explained that if the budget is in by May of the same year, like other Troy city budgets, everything is fine. The anti-library proposal folks don’t know that, apparently, because they didn’t have lawyers or accountants help them interpret the law AND because after throwing these incorrect claims on the table, they stalked out of the chambers and didn't hear the truth.
If Proposal 1 passes, our library will continue running smoothly through the transition from city department to independent management by the library board. The Friends of the TPL know this because they have been responsible and professional. They have researched the facts, consulted the city and attorneys. They know what they’re doing.
Please don’t listen to the uninformed. Vote yes on Proposal 1.

More information from The Oakland Press (10/27/10):
Troy Citizens United also says even if an independent library were to be approved by voters, it could not open until July 1, 2012. It points to a section in Michigan Public Act 164, which outlines guidelines for independent public libraries, that states that the library board of directors would have to prepare a budget estimate on or before the first Monday in September for the ensuing year.

However, Lamerato said the provision applies to libraries with fiscal years that begin on Jan. 1 and not on July 1.

“It’s not a problem,” Lamerato said. “We have to have the tax rates established in May in order to issue the tax bills in July. If this were to pass in November, there’s no reason that the city council couldn’t approve a board that could meet in the spring and approve a budget in May.”

TCU Deception #9 - Troy will get $86 million from Proposal 1 - Lie upon lie upon lie

Deception #9 and not done with the first page!
The mailers proclaims, "Troy doesn't need another $86,000,000 of your money!"
A whole lotta crazy!!!
First TCU claimed that Troy's Library Proposal 1 will raise 2 mills, but that's not true. By definition, Proposal 1 asks for 0.9885 for a capped ten years. It cannot be raised until after 10 years by a vote of the people. So they are basing this number on 2 mills, which is not accurate.
The first year, Proposal 1 will raise $4.3 million for the library. But Oakland County says Troy property values will continue to fall for the next 4 years. That means this budget will slide down for the first 4 years as well.
Even if our property values froze solid for the next 10 years, Proposal 1 would raise half of what TCU claims -- $43,000,000. But divide that by 10 and you'll see that it's simply a reasonable library budget to pay for salaries, programs, utilities, materials, etc. If they put all that money into a library, there would be no money left to run it!
This deception inflames the conspiracy theory that the Friends of the Library want to build a new building. But they can't. This will only be enough money to run the library, hopefully at the same quality levels as in 2009, for 10 years.
Don't listen to their noise. The TCU will have a victory party if the library closes.
Please vote yes on Proposal 1 and No on the other, fake proposals.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TCU Deception #8 - City Council closed the library on Saturdays this year - Of course not!

The mailer claims that city council decided to close the library on Saturday, the busiest day of the week, to use the library as a "political pawn."
Not True!
Yes, the city council did decide to close the library permanently as of next July, a decision no one was happy with. But it was the library management, not city council, that made the decision to cut Saturdays after having to lay off 7 employees on July 1, 2010. No,  it wasn't to make us mad. They were responding to a 30% budget cut by the city. They also cut all the programs, because while they can have materials donated, the library doesn't have enough staff to run these programs.
They must keep the library open 55 hours per week to continue to get funding from the State of Michigan. And because it takes so many workers to keep the library open on Saturday, the director decided to close it Saturday, when many neighboring libraries were open, so they could keep it open the other six days of the week.
The people who support Proposal 1 cannot be apologists for city council. We just want to keep our library open. The library will close next July. Only the passage of Proposal 1 will keep it open.

TCU Deception #7 - Because people voted NO on the February millage they'll vote No on Prop 1

The mailer says, "Just a few months ago 63% of Troy Voters said NO to a tax increase. Tell City Council NO means NO!"
Misleading!
Again, this is not a city council initiative, so defeating Proposal 1 will not tell city council anything except that Troy doesn't care about keeping a library.
Good news!
I have spoken to several people who voted NO in February but are voting YES on Proposal 1. Some thought the Feb. millage was too nebulous. Others think the library is the most important city service that we must save. This is NOT a partisan issue--it's a LIBRARY ISSUE!
Please vote YES on Proposal 1 and no on the other, fake proposals that were brought to you by TCU.

TCU Deception #6 - The "mandate" will keep the library open - Not really!

The mailer says that if you support the "Mandate Petition" the TCU is currently distributing, we will save the library with no new taxes -Voila!
Not True!
First of all, the wording of the mandate petition is shockingly insufficient. They don't ask to keep the "current" library building open with no funding, they ask for "a" library to stay open 55 hours per week. What does that mean? A garage and 5 magazines? The city could comply with ease to that with a few hundred bucks.
We want a real library!
Also, if they get the 2,000 signatures needed, the city council still needs to approve it. If the city council does NOT approve it, there has to be a SPECIAL ELECTION on the mandate within five months, costing more tens of thousands of dollars.
A BETTER IDEA?
It is time to vote for SECURE, SUFFICIENT FUNDING to keep our library open and operating at the full quality as in the last fiscal year, before the city cut the library funding by 1.4 million dollars. Proposal 1 will take the library out of the city's control and out of politics.

TCU Deception #5 - The new library board would be a "taxing authority" - ridiculous!

The TCU mailer claims that the new library board created by Proposal 1 to manage the library would be a "taxing authority" and would be able to raise taxes and secure bonds at will.
Not True!
Actually this was created out of thin air. It would be like saying a school board would be able to raise taxes whenever it wanted to. That's ridiculous. The taxes we're talking about are exactly the ones we're VOTING ON. Passage of Proposal 1 would add 0.9885 mills onto our property taxes and be capped at the level for 10 years. The city attorney made it clear that if anyone wanted to raise the millage, it would have to be approved by the people of Troy and it wouldn't go through until after the initial 10-year period is ended.
If their cause is so just, why do they have to lie?
Go to www.savetroylibrary.org or follow savetroylibrary on Facebook or Twitter.

TCU Deception #4 - "30.6% tax increase"

TCU's 4-page mailer hints that if Proposal 1 wins it could be a (large red letters) be a "30.6% increase in city property taxes."
NOT TRUE!
This is one of their most cynical deceptions, just like the 29% they claimed in February.
Right now, the City Government portion (NOT including state, county, school and community college taxes) of our tax bill (see http://troymi.gov/Taxes/ to learn your tax information) is 9.4 mills. Proposal one would add 0.9885 mills to that for a total of 10.3885 mills. That is a 10.5% increase of the city portion only. In my case, it would be an increase of $108.62 per year, or $9.05 a month to keep the library open.

So what did they do? Add up all 4 proposals? The one the Pro-Library people researched and wrote and all the others they tossed in to make trouble? Doesn't matter. The state limits an independent library to receiving 2 mills in tax funding. Troy's city attorney has said that if more than one of the proposals gets a majority Yes vote, she will recommend that the city accept only one. Thus the millage would be under 1 mill and capped for 10 years. An increase of 10.5 %. Nobody wants all 4 proposals to pass, least of all the Citizens to Save TPL who wrote Proposal 1. TCU people added the rest of the proposals which they are now telling people to vote against!?

Many Troy citizens have already noticed that in February TCU claimed a 1.9 mill increase would equate to a 29% tax increase and now they claim a 0.9885 mill increase would be a 30.6% increase? 
Their numbers just don't add up. Troy Citizens United will do ANYTHING to promote their no-tax-at-any-cost ideology, including letting the library close. 
I want my kids to grow up in a hometown WITH a library.
Please don't let these cynical ideologues win. Vote YES on Proposal 1 and NO on the 3 fake proposals.
For more info. go to www.savetroylibrary.org.

TCU Deception #3 - Telling people to vote NO on all 4 tax increases

The folks at TCU have started distributing lawn signs that say "Vote No on all $ Tax Increases" because they would like voters to believe that the PRO-library folks put all 4 of those proposals on the ballot.
NOT TRUE!
Citizens to Save Troy Public Library put 1 and only one proposal on the ballot--Proposal 1. They did that after months of research looking into the best possible way of keeping our library open, secure and well-funded. Then the anti-tax-at-any-cost crowd copied the Citizens' language and tossed up three more proposals in an effort to confuse and anger voters and, most importantly, to suppress the vote. And then they blame the PRO-library people for all 4 proposals???
If their cause is so noble, why do they have to cheat?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TCU Deception #2 - Hinting that Troy City Council wrote Proposal 1

The anti-tax-at-any-cost crowd has sent out its 4-page mailer which may sully your mailbox as early as today.
For anyone who knows any little detail about our city government and our library Proposal #1 it is an extremely painful document to read because you know either these people don't know ANYTHING and just make stuff up or the are intentionally lying because they so desperately want the library to close to score a win for their own selfish ideological motives.
A city of 85,000 people without a library? That's crazy! But they'll stop at nothing to make it so.

Deception # 2 is the line at the top of the first page: "Here they go again! Using the library as a pawn for a backdoor tax increase!"
They are hinting that Proposal 1 is a city council driven initiative.
Not True!
Neither the city nor city council wrote this proposal. In May of 2010, Troy City Council voted to de-fund the library for the entirety of the upcoming 3-year budget. The Citizens to Save Troy Public Library (CSTPL) heroically stepped up to the plate, researched the possibilities of keeping the library open and chose the option of trying to get a millage passed to support an Independent Troy Public Library.
In this case the city CLOSED the library to balance its upcoming budget. The Friends stepped up to do something about it.
Were Troy Citizens United members at the table begging to keep the library open? No. They showed up after all the work was done and started playing political dirty tricks to SUPPRESS THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE TRYING TO KEEP THE LIBRARY OPEN.
This is not a Troy City Council millage, it's a library millage.
Please save the Troy Public Library! Vote YES on Proposal 1 and NO on the fake proposals and DON'T sign the Mandate Petition to Nowhere!

TCU mailer coming out today

Troy Citizens United is sending out its mailer today so you'll be able to see the deceptive messages yourself. I will continue to write blogs on the truth vs. their claims.
Please tell your friends that this mailer is almost completely incorrect!
If you see inconsistencies, dis-information or, well, outright lies that I miss, let me know!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Many people who voted NO on the Feb. Millage are voting YES on Prop 1

See this thoughtful blog post:

Troy Citizens United Deception #1 - 2 mills

In the Troy Citizens United four-page flier that they have sent out to absentee voters and they will send out right before the election, there are many, many, many untruths. If they took out all of the incorrect and misleading information, it would be a 1/2-page flier!

Deception #1
CLAIM: The TCU is claiming that the library will cost 2 mills because Michigan state library laws allow an independent library to charge up to 2 mills. They back it up with confusing legal language from the state's website.

TRUTH: This is odd, because Proposition 1 asks for less than 1 mill--0.9885 mills--for 10 years. By definition that means that Prop 1 caps the library budget at that level for 10 years. They can't raise the mills before that 10 years is up. TCU folks argue that other libraries charge up to 2 mills, but so? We will be locked in at the .9885 rate and that's that.

Simple.

Also, their wacky $86,000,000 claim is based on the 2 mills, so that's incorrect as well.