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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Real leadership

The library we are all arguing over now would not exist if 5 Troy City Commissioners had not overruled the anti-tax, anti-library people of the 1960s, and built the darned thing anyway.
Over 40 years ago, when the Troy Public Library opened, it was a tiny corner in the high school library. The city commissioners and citizens of the time knew that Troy needed more than that.
Twice the city tried to get the people to vote yes for a bond and then a charter amendment to fund the library... and the people, short-sightedly, voted no. However, the 1968 Troy City Commission would not let that stand. So they wrote and approved a resolution to issue library bonds in order to raise 475 thousand dollars to build Troy’s first real library. Of the 5 commissioners present, only one voted no. So they overruled the citizens of Troy and built the first Troy Public Library building. Then the whole library was housed in today’s children’s section.
They had some guts. They did the right thing.
Fourteen years later the people showed their support, too. In 1982 Troy citizens voted nearly 2-to-1 for $2 million dollars to build a 35,000 square foot addition, to make the library the size it is today.
I guess they were the greatest generation—these people who had the courage to build up rather than tear down, to be LEADERS of the people rather than followers.
Because sadly, we stand here today, with less than 3 months before our hard-fought-for library closes its doors to the public. N one is willing to budge, to compromise, to make any concession to save this library.
We have magic numbers of funds that don’t exist, posing as an answer. Won’t work.
We have a ridiculously low tax millage rate in Troy, yet the anti-tax crowd people act like we are taxed heavily. They use their dis-information campaigns to make people look down on our city government and distrust those who are TRYING TO SAVE the city. But the uniformed won’t listen. It’s easier to blame the city and save a few bucks now (that will cost us dearly in the long-run).
And those who dis-inform won’t budge, because keeping our millage rate absurdly low is more important than the education of our children and the jobseeker support for our unemployed.
Four city council votes on the Michigan Library Law option to open an independent library, with all-important dedicated funding, will save the library, but city council has no guts for that either.
If you don’t know, people, even journalists here in Troy and throughout the area are starting to notice this silliness, this shame of ours. A section of a Ferndale newspaper OpEd from Sunday:
While Ferndale can take great pride in its support of the library -- it is astounding that just a few miles away, the city of Troy is getting ready to shut down its library. Various plans and millage proposals to save the library have failed, and unless a lifeline is found quickly, the library will shut its doors in June. That is shameful. Troy is a major, fairly affluent city. But the anti-tax movement there appears to be adamant and will not support the library. And with each day, the chances of saving the Troy library grow dimmer. But that is Troy's problem — and its disgrace.
Who cares to distance themselves from this disgrace?
Anyone?

5 comments:

  1. The majority of the people in Troy want a library. To say that the people don't want a library is disingenuous. With an $43 million budget, the city council and its workers can prioritze just 5 percent (or, $2.1 million) to fund a library if they wanted to. These figures compare to a household that earns $40,000 a year and spends $2000 on cable and phone bills ($166 a month).

    It's all a matter of priorities.

    The council can stop funding the golf course, the water park, and several other parks just to start. Instead, the council put golf cources ahead of the library. This November, we have a choice to change the council with new people who have the right priorities.

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  2. What Anonymous said is the problem in a nutshell.
    There are folks who just "know" the money is there yet can't quite say where.
    You have to fund the golf course because the revenue from that is paying down the debt. We've gone over it a million times!

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  3. Anonymous,

    If you would simply listen to some of the council meetings you would have a better understanding of what is going on. While I may agree that a second golf course was a mistake, that boat has sailed. Now the city has a debt to be paid and if you were to close the golf course, you would have to take more money out of general fund to cover that debt. In other words, it costs the city less overall, to keep it operating then to outright close it.

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  4. "The majority of the people in Troy want a library. To say that the people don't want a library is disingenuous. With an $43 million budget, the city council and its workers can prioritze just 5 percent (or, $2.1 million) "
    --Where you're not paying attention is that the budget is about $8 million less for the city than a few years ago, and will continue to shrink in the next few years. The budget for the library went from 4.6 to 3.5 or so to this year 2.6 and next year that means it slips into unsustainable. There is a couple million less every year, so even though the city keeps cutting, they have to cut more again the next year. That is what is happening. That is what we have all been talking about for months. Next year they say our police staff will be back to 1978 levels. Everything is shrinking. I believe the only way to save the library is a dedicated millage, so the funds cannot be diverted elsewhere.

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  5. I feel like I should just walk around with a large sandwich board with the message "because the city of troy doesn't have enough revenue." It seems to me that the conversation starter in the grocery market or bank line is "can you believe how horrible the roads are?" We used to have such wonderful city services, I wonder what happened? I repeat the truth to these people over and over and over and over and over. I tell them how we came to this junction. I talk until I'm blue in the face. I can only hope that the more they hear the message and hear it from more and more people the truth will start to sink in. I'm glad I'm not the only one preaching the word. Coming here makes me realize I'm not alone in the fight.
    April

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