2011-08-07 / News

Aug. 3 election finalizes switch to district-based library service

Petitions circulating for surrounding townships to join in Nov. election

CHESANING – Nearly 650 residents of Chesaning Village and Township stopped Aug. 3 to cast a ballot voicing their opinion on just one issue—whether to fund the library’s switch to a district-based service. Nearly three quarters of voters agreed to support the library, finalizing the River Rapids District Library’s move from a township-based service to a district based one.

The library had until the end of 2014 to pass a district operating millage, but the measure passed Tuesday, the first time it was sent to voters.

“Without millage funding, we wouldn’t exist,” said Library Director Erin Schmandt. “We had until the end of 2014, but the sooner that the millage passed, the sooner we can get service to other areas.”

With the election results permanently moving the library to the laws governing a district library instead of a township library, the surrounding townships can now vote individually to be included in the district. Under township library laws, the entire coverage area would have to vote as a whole.

Schmandt said that Chapin Township has already expressed an interest in putting a millage on the ballot to join the district. As the smallest surrounding township in population, however, leaders in Chapin wanted the township to be able to vote in separately so they wouldn’t be just a small voice in the larger coverage area, Schmandt said.

Petitions are currently circulating to add a millage to the November election for several surrounding communities. Carol Somers, Brady Township Petition Coordinator, said the townships had about ten days after the Aug. 3 election to get enough signatures to be on the ballot by November.

In order for a township to become part of the library, the library board, Chesaning Township Board, and Chesaning Village Council would have to agree and draw up a contract, then put the issue on the ballot for that township’s residents to decide.

A large majority of voters in Chesaning decided to support the district library, with the measure passing 466 yes to 169 no. Chesaning Village (Precinct 1) approved the measure by 83 percent while the township (Precinct 2) passed the millage by about 63 percent. In both precincts, about 18 percent of registered voters visited the polls.

“I’m really pleased by the margin the millage passed by,” Schmandt said. “A lot of people were surprised because of the economy.”

The library’s situation, Schmandt acknowledged, was different because the millage acted like a renewal. The millage is new because it is a district millage and not a township one; however it replaces the old millage and residents will not see much change in their property taxes. The previous millage was at about .9284 because of the Headlee rollback; with the new one at a full mill, the difference is less than $4 for the owner of property valued at $50,000 SEV.

“We’ve been trying to get the word out since we were the only item on the ballot,” Schmandt said. “We were pleased to see that so many people took the time to come out or fill out an absentee.”

For more information about the petition for townships to join the River Rapids district library, contact your petition coordinator.

Albee Township
Melissa Peters

Brady Township
Carol Somers

Chapin Township
John James

Maple Grove Township
Suzanne Lane

New Haven Township
Angie Meder

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