There's an old joke that goes like this:
Question: What do you call the student who ranked last in medical school?
You see, just because someone has a title or holds a position doesn't mean they are actually fully qualified for it.
Take the words of one Troy City Council hopeful on the upcoming library millage:
The whole problem with the city is the shifting numbers. One day they need 4 million a year, the next day they need 2.4 million, then the next day they need 3.1 million. Which is it? I (and a lot of people like me) don't trust the numbers the city shifts around conveniently whenever they feel the need for a tax increase.
This wannabe civic leader is referring to a couple of things here, but he/she clearly doesn't get it.
The CITIZEN LED Proposal 1 millage request (NOT the city's request...again...CITIZEN led) was for a .9 millage SOLELY dedicated to the operation of an independent library. It would have generated about $4 million THE FIRST YEAR...and then less and less each year thereafter as our revenue from falling property values continues to decrease.
In addition, as an independent library, a VOLUNTEER board would be responsible for paying for/funding all of the following:
-- maintenance and upkeep of the physical plant, including outdoor landscaping/snow-removal, utilities, cleaning, etc.
-- rent/lease of the building IF the city chose to charge for that
-- salaries of all employees (and associated costs of payroll, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.)
-- all library expenditures (books, subscriptions, office supplies, etc.)
-- internal IT that the city has always provided, but might not into the future
-- establishment of an "emergency fund" for things that would no longer be funded from the city's "fund balance" or "capital fund."
In other words, the INDEPENDENT library would have no built-in services or safety net from the city like a city-run library would. Much research and thought went into finding a workable number that kept the library free from peril or threat of closing.
To be honest, Proposal 1 was the soundest possible solution to keeping a soundly run library.
Right now, the library is still a city-run entity. It will cease to be funded by the city as of August 5, however, if the current millage proposal doesn't pass. But for now...it costs about $2.4 million to fund at it's current level. That level is a FAR CRY from the fully-funded, award-winning library we used to have.
Library Director Cathy Russ had NO CHOICE in the matter, though. She was told she had to fund the library at that level, and so she did. She made painful cuts. She had to fire employees. She cut back service. To compare to prior levels:
-- acquisitions are at about 50% of they had been previously
-- far fewer individuals staff the library
-- programs are greatly decreased
But the library is OPEN, and that's crucial.
So...that brings us to August 2. If the .7 millage request is approved, it will generate enough income OVER THE FIVE YEARS to run the library at about what it costs today. That number of dollars raised WILL FLUCTUATE over the years, though, as our property tax revenue does the same. It might bring in $3.1 the first year, but far less from there on if leading economic indicators are to be trusted.
Again, we're looking at an AVERAGE of revenue over five years.
The bottom line is that ANY MILLAGE NUMBER does not generate the exact number to the penny needed for funding actual costs. Budgets are not set by ACTUAL costs; they are set by proposed numbers based on careful analysis of past spending, estimated future spending, and assumed increases/decreases as determined by economic conditions.
Anyone who doesn't understand that shouldn't be sharing opinions as though they do.
Anyone who doesn't understand that has NO BUSINESS in city government.