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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who knew? Finally Troy's library catches a break from the OP


The Oakland Press did its part to support TCU and Martin Howrylak in defeating Proposal 1 last year by repeatedly publishing guest opinion pieces by folks opposed to the last-ditch effort to keep the library open. They published far more editorials against Prop 1 than for it.

So I'm thrilled to see that the Oakland Press is joining the guilt-ridden, too-late efforts of Janice Daniels and Martin Howrylak--who are also suddenly telling us how very important it is to save the library for our kids, our property values and our very culture. Problem is, of course, it's too late.
If only this pro-library OpEd had been published and the TCU's sudden desire to save the library had been heard last October, our library wouldn't be closing in about 23 days.
So since we all agree that the library should be saved, how about the city coughs up some funding to save the damn library through the end of the year till the people come to their senses and save it?

Editorial: Dedicated tax best option for Troy library

The Troy Public Library’s last day of service to the public is Sunday, May 1. Its hours will be 1 to 5 p.m.
It should be a sad day for the city because it will be a huge step back in the cultural advancement of the community.
Officials, according to the facility’s website, say the library is funded through June 30 but needs to close two months earlier because “there is much that needs to happen inside the library before the lights are turned out...” They give, as examples, the fact an inventory needs to be taken; financial records need to be reconciled; vendor contracts ended; and the patron database needs to be made current and backed up, etc.
The facility lost 39 of its 108 staff members last year. The remaining 69 employees will be let go after it closes. It’s a shame. The library’s closure will take place during a time when it, like most libraries in the country, is seeing an upswing in patron visits. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, the library had 655,266 in-person visits and 628,927 unique hits on its website.
Basically, the library is a victim of the recession and local budget cuts. City officials wanted a millage increase to keep it open but voters turned that proposal down. So city officials put the library, among other budget items, on the chopping block.
It’s not that it hasn’t gone down fighting. In fact, maybe there were too many misguided and disingenuous conflicts. A unified effort by library supporters might have saved the facility. But the community didn’t come close to getting it.
Supporters of the library put a dedicated millage proposal on the ballot last November but, presumably on purpose, three nearly identical proposals also were placed before the voters. As might be expected in such a case, the four issues confused some voters and angered others. All four were defeated.
Some people [Mr. Howrylak] who reportedly opposed the dedicated millage plan said they wanted a library but felt it should be funded from the city’s general fund. We don’t doubt their sincerity but that’s a bit naive, if not just unrealistic.
A municipality is not obligated to fund a public library. There is no statutory regulation that mandates taxpayers support such a facility.
But certainly a modern, properly operated library is more than an asset to the community in which it exists and definitely adds to the quality of life of the residents. And today, with education being such a vital  component of preparing our children for the future, some type of library certainly is a necessity.
If taxpayers won’t fund it, then that doesn’t leave many options for library supporters.
But if a referendum is to be undertaken, the best one would be to seek one dedicated tax proposal for the library. That way the facility would not be drawn into the yearly political debates that come up around budget time. It would have to operate within the revenue from that millage but at least it could count on those funds.
A number of libraries in Oakland County are financed this way and it has proven to be quite successful for them.
Troy tried this avenue, as we’ve noted, but the proposal got lost in a sea of politics and bitter anti-tax sentiment [TCU].
A dedicated millage is the best direction for those wishing to preserve or reopen the library and they will need all of the grassroots support they can muster.

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