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The Library Millage Request

Impact on Library services

If the millage is approved

If the millage is not approved

Approval of the .7 mills will enable YDL to:

If the .7 mills is not approved, District-wide cuts will be necessary. Patrons should expect:

Expand our Collection

  • Enhance popular collections like eBooks, Audiobooks, and streaming media

Reduced materials

  • Fewer new books, audiobooks, eBooks and DVDs
  • Fewer hoopla (streaming movie, music, books and audiobook) checkouts per month

Maintain Services

  • Continue to provide the level of service residents of the Library district expect, including weekday and Sunday hours

Reduced services

  • Phase out Bookmobile stops and outreach services
  • Eliminate Sunday hours
  • Reduced weekday hours at Whittaker and Michigan Avenue locations possible
  • Fewer programs for children, teens, and adults
  • Eliminate Lunch & Listen, a staff-intensive service which provides free lunches and learning experiences to youth

Update Technology

  • Replace outdated computers and equipment to provide up-to-date systems that users want
  • Improve WiFi access
  • Modernize the Library catalog for a more user-friendly experience

Outdated or underperforming technology

  • Delayed and limited upgrades to computers, software, and servers
  • Fewer computer classes offered because of outdated technology
  • No upgrades to the Library catalog for a better browsing and user experience
  • No improvements to WiFi

Maintain and Enhance Buildings

  • Provide stable funding for building operations and maintenance
  • Undertake needed repairs and improvements to our aging facilities
  • Reorganize underutilized spaces, including more study areas at YDL-Whittaker and improved space for children’s programming at YDL-Michigan

Delayed schedule of building maintenance

  • Only the most basic and necessary repairs or replacement of aging infrastructure and furnishings will be done, which could increase costs over time and make the Library a less welcoming environment

Build and Operate a New Location on Harris Road

  • Use $2.1 million from the Library’s fund balance to construct an adequate Library facility near the intersection of Harris Road and MacArthur Boulevard in Superior Township, fulfilling a commitment to Township residents
  • Operate the new location, increasing access to the Library and placing nearly everyone in the Library district within a 10-minute drive of a full-service Library location

Indefinite postponement of a new Harris Road location in Superior Township

  • Funds to operate a new Harris Road location won’t be available unless the .7 mills is approved. Fund balance (savings) monies could not be responsibly used for the purpose of construction

Stabilize Finances for the Future

  • Replenish the Library district’s fund balance to help ensure ongoing financial stability

Reduced ability to attract and retain talented, committed, and caring staff

 

The New Superior Library Branch

The Library Board is committed to improving service to Superior Township and providing a third full-service YDL location on Harris Road near the MacArthur Boulevard and Willow Run neighborhoods. This building would replace the small, temporary library on MacArthur Boulevard with a larger facility to serve the community’s needs.

The new facility will be built on two and a half acres of a 12-acre lot, purchased by Superior Township. If the millage is approved in November 2018, construction on the Library facility will begin during 2019 with completion sometime in 2020. The building will be scalable so that it can be expanded at a future date, if needed.

The building will cost approximately $2.1 million. Building costs would be paid by a portion of the Library’s fund balance (savings,) so a building bond would not be necessary. However, the Library district cannot afford to operate the new building without additional funding.

click images to enlarge

click image to enlarge

The 7,500 square foot building will be a full-service library, with hours and staffing similar to the Michigan Avenue location. The facility will offer:

  • A youth area with flexible space that can be adapted to a range of learning activities and programs for different ages
  • A dedicated teen/tween area
  • Two group study rooms
  • Comfortable seating for reading and studying
  • A community meeting room for Library programs and meetings of community groups
  • 20 computer workstations (compared to seven at the current library)
  • Triple the current number of books, magazines, and DVDs
  • More parking spaces
  • An outdoor reading area and programming space, if the budget allows
  • A drive-up book return available 24 hours seven days a week, if the budget allows

Frequently Asked Questions

What is YDL requesting?

The Ypsilanti District Library is asking voters to approve .7 mills of funding for 12 years.

Why is the millage needed?
  • About 90% of the Library’s revenue comes from local tax dollars. Over the past decade, revenue for the Library district declined by 11% because falling property values decreased the amount of tax revenue the Library received. During this time, the costs for collection materials, services, health care insurance for staff, and other expenses increased.
  • The Library has been using money from its fund balance (savings) to offset declining revenue and maintain Library operations. This is not sustainable.
  • Without additional operating funds, reductions in hours, materials, services, programs, and staff will be necessary across the Library district.
What cuts has YDL made as revenue declined?

The Library district has worked to reduce costs, generate revenue where possible, and maximize every dollar. During the 2008 recession, the need for the Library’s services—including job search access and low-cost entertainment—rose, even as revenue fell sharply. YDL made every effort to maintain high levels of public service during this time, while also making cuts to constrain costs. Cost-saving measures over the past 10 years have included:

  • Reductions to staffing, with some positions eliminated or reduced to part-time
  • A wage freeze and years with no staff raises
  • Changes to employee benefits to reduce costs
  • Eliminating most conference attendance and travel
  • Lowering the cost of printing the Library newsletter
  • Stretching the lifespan of furnishings and equipment in Library buildings by delaying updates, repairs, or replacements
  • Reducing the amount spent on technology, collection materials, and supplies

The Library has simultaneously applied for and received more grant money and increased fundraising activities to help supplement declining revenue and maintain services. The effort to cut costs without cutting service cannot be sustained any further.

What will approval of the millage mean for residents of the Library district?

Approval of the .7 mills will enable YDL to:

  • Continue to provide the level of service residents of the Library district expect, preventing cuts to hours, materials, services, programs, and staff
  • Replace outdated computers and equipment to provide up-to-date systems that users want
  • Enhance popular collections like eBooks and eAudiobooks and increase streaming media services
  • Provide stable funding for building operations and maintenance
  • Undertake needed repairs and improvements to our aging facilities, including replacing worn carpeting at the Whittaker location and broken furniture at Michigan Avenue location
  • Reorganize underutilized spaces to better meet current and future needs, including more study areas at the Whittaker location for collaborative work and improved space for children’s programming at the Michigan Avenue location
  • Modernize the Library catalog for a more user-friendly experience
  • Use $2.1 million from the Library’s fund balance to construct an adequate Library facility near the intersection of Harris Rd. and MacArthur Blvd. in Superior Township and fulfill a commitment to residents of the Township
  • Operate the larger Harris Rd. location, giving everyone in the Library district a third Library building on par with the Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township locations, increasing access to Library resources and services, and placing nearly everyone in the Library district within a 10-minute drive of a full-service Library location
  • Improve WiFi access in all facilities
  • Replenish the Library district’s fund balance to help ensure ongoing financial stability
What is the cost?

The millage will cost 70¢ per $1,000 of a property’s taxable value.

Look up the taxable value of your property here.

Home Market Value Est. Taxable Value
(Approx. 50% of market value)
Cost of .7 mills
$100,000 $50,000 $35/year or $.67/week $150,000
$150,000 $75,000 $52.50/year or $1.01/week $200,000
$200,000 $100,000 $70/year or $1.35/week

 

The .7 mills is less than the expiring bond rate

Voters in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township approved a building bond in 1998 that expires in 2018.  The expiring millage was levied at an average rate of .8154 annually. If the request for .7 mills is approved, the cost to property owners in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township will be less than the expiring bond levy. Property owners in Superior Township were not part of this building debt levy.

Location Expiring library bond rate
(average, 1998-2018)
New Millage rate
(if passed)
difference
Ypsilanti City 0.8154 mills  0.7 mills  -0.1154 mills
Ypsilanti Township 0.8154 mills  0.7 mills  -0.1154 mills
Superior Township 0 (did not pay bond)  0.7 mills  +0.7 mills

 

What is the plan for the new Harris Road location in Superior Township?

The Library Board is committed to improving service to Superior Township and providing a third full-service YDL location by building a new Library facility on Harris Rd. near the MacArthur Blvd. and Willow Run neighborhoods. The new Harris Rd. facility will be scaled to Superior Township’s population and provide the same level of service as the Whittaker and Michigan Avenue locations. The 7,500 square foot building will have flexible space designed specifically for use as a public library with full-service hours and staffing similar to the Michigan Avenue location. The facility will offer:

  • A youth area with flexible space that can be adapted to a range of learning activities and programs for different ages
  • A dedicated teen/tween area designed specifically for this age group
  • Two group study rooms that seat up to four each
  • Comfortable seating for reading and studying
  • A meeting room with versatile space that can be used for Library programs and meetings of community groups; the space would be made available as study space when not otherwise in use
  • Almost triple the number of computer workstations (from seven to 20)
  • A collection size that is almost three times the current number of items
  • Lower and more flexible shelving that makes it easier to browse and select popular materials
  • More parking spaces
  • An outdoor reading area and programming space, if the budget allows
  • A drive-up book return available 24 hours seven days a week, if the budget allows

The new facility will be built on two and a half acres of a 12-acre lot, purchased by Superior Township, on Harris Rd. in the MacArthur Blvd. neighborhood near Willow Run. If the millage is approved in November 2018, construction on the Library facility will begin during 2019 with completion sometime in 2020. The building will be scalable so that it and adjacent parking can be expanded at a future date, if needed. The building will cost approximately $2.1 million. Building costs would be paid by the portion of the Library’s fund balance (savings) that is not committed to other purposes. A building bond would not be necessary. However, the Library district cannot afford to operate the new building without additional funding. It would not be fiscally responsible to proceed with construction of the new facility unless the .7 mills is approved. If approved, the millage will generate enough revenue to operate the larger building and restore the fund balance.

Why has the current Superior Township location been in temporary space?

Superior Township joined the Ypsilanti District Library in August of 2006 after voters approved an operating millage rate equal to what property owners in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township pay. In 2007, the Library district opened what was intended to be a temporary location in a Superior Township fire station. This one-room space is less than 1,000 square feet. The fire department made the space available with the understanding that it would be used for one year while a permanent Library was built. As a result of the recession, the Library has operated there for 11 years. The size of the space limits the materials, resources, and services the Library can provide.

The size of the new facility has been scaled back from recommendations in the original space needs study. After Superior Township residents voted to join the Ypsilanti Library district in 2006, the Library Board began planning to build a new Library facility of about 12,000 sq. ft. However, Library revenue started to decline with the economic downturn that began in 2007. The Library Board later discontinued the planning process because it did not have sufficient funds to build and operate a new Library facility in Superior Township. The updated 2018 plan for the new Library building has been scaled back to about 7,500 sq. ft., with options for expansion at a later date, if needed. The building design still includes spaces for high-demand areas, materials, and technology for children, teens, and adults. Its current proposed size reduces the cost to construct and operate the building.

How is the Library funded?

About 90% of the Library’s revenue comes from local tax dollars. Property owners in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and Superior Township pay a District-wide operating millage of 1.98 mills, rolled back by the Headlee Amendment to 1.8587 mills. Other sources of income include state aid, penal fines, grants, donations, Library fines and fees, and interest on investments.

Why is the Library asking for the millage now?

The need is now. Despite cutting costs over the last decade, the Library district has still needed to use its fund balance (savings) to operate. This is not sustainable. The 1998 building bond levy that expires in 2018 provides a unique opportunity. Property owners in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township will pay less for the .7 mills being requested than for the bond levy that is expiring, which was levied at an average annual rate of .8154.

Why is the millage for only 12 years?

The 12-year duration of the millage will allow the fund balance to be replenished, after a portion of the Library’s savings is used for construction of the new Library facility.

Aren’t libraries used less because of the internet?

The role of public libraries has expanded in the age of the internet. Library use has increased across the country in part because of the internet access provided by public libraries. Even if residents have internet access at home, they come to the Library to use digital resources and reference databases that they couldn’t afford on their own, to take computer and internet classes, and to use WiFi. The Ypsilanti District Library continues to be a well-used destination for children, teens, families, singles, and seniors to gather, talk, and pursue their interests. Beginning at birth and continuing throughout a lifetime, District residents use Library resources to explore, learn, study, develop their potential and realize their dreams. The Library:

  • Nurtures the development of language, pre-reading, and critical thinking skills in young children long before they enter school. Library resources and services help children become readers and learners.
  • Helps K-12 students achieve. Students use the Library for books, reference resources and librarians to help them with homework. Our libraries are a place to meet for collaborative school assignments and to study.
  • Is a family destination where parents bring children to read together, use educational games, enjoy programs and set an example for lifelong learning.
  • Helps parents and caregivers raise healthy children by providing information about child development, parenting resources, and family-oriented learning activities.
  • Saves individuals, families and businesses money by providing expensive materials and resources – both print and digital – that would add up to thousands of dollars if they had to be purchased individually.
  • Provides computers with productivity software and internet access for research and to pursue hobbies and other interests.
  • Helps residents use career resources, improve workplace skills, search and apply for jobs, research business opportunities, and use specialized business and investment databases.

Through these and other roles, the Library adds value to those who live in the Library district. The very youngest to the most elderly can find resources and experiences at the Library that positively impact their lives.

What’s the value of Library materials and services?

Studies around the country show that public libraries offer a significant economic return on the investment from their communities, a return of $3 to $10 for every local dollar invested. YDL returns more to many District residents through materials and services than a household invests. Use the Library Value Calculator to see the return for your family.

I don’t use the Library. Why should I care about the millage?

Strong public libraries benefit everyone, even those who don’t use a library on a regular basis. The Ypsilanti District Library plays a unique role. YDL serves every resident in the District as a portal to information, a partner in learning, and a resource to empower and enrich lives. Children, teens, and adults have access to a wide array of opportunities at the Library. The scope of resources and their availability to every resident makes the Ypsilanti District Library a vital community asset, one that yields a high return on the tax dollars that support it.

What does the ballot language say?

The ballot language for the referendum is written to comply with state regulations and must be approved by the Washtenaw County Clerk. The ballot language will say:

YPSILANTI DISTRICT LIBRARY

LIBRARY MILLAGE

 Shall the Ypsilanti District Library, County of Washtenaw, Michigan, be authorized to levy a new additional millage in an amount not to exceed .70 mill ($.70 on each $1,000 of taxable value) against all taxable property within the Ypsilanti District Library district for a period of twelve (12) years, 2018 to 2029, inclusive, for the purpose of providing funds for all district library purposes authorized by law? The estimate of the revenue the District Library will collect in the first year of levy (2018) if the millage is approved and levied by the District Library is approximately $1,340,000.  A portion of the millage collected may be subject to capture by the City of Ypsilanti Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

Yes      

No       

What is the tax capture mentioned in the ballot language?

The “tax capture” mentioned in the ballot language is mandated by state law, and the Library has no choice but to comply.

 

The Library’s millage is subject to Michigan’s tax capture law, which requires a small percentage of public library millages be captured – used – for local Brownfield Redevelopment improvements. Within the Ypsilanti Library District, two projects qualify to receive a tax capture from the Library’s millage. Both are in the City of Ypsilanti: the Water Street Redevelopment Area and the Historic Thompson Block (400-408 North River St. and 107 East Cross St.).

 

The amount of the tax capture changes annually, based on a formula stated in the law. Using this year’s formula, the amount of the tax capture for the first year of the Library’s .7 mills would be about $3,000 out of the approximately $1,340,000 that the Library district will collect the first year of the levy.

 

The reference to the tax capture by the City of Ypsilanti Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is included in ballot language for full transparency.

Who can vote on the Library’s millage proposal?

Registered voters in the Ypsilanti Library District, which includes the City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and the portion of Superior Township that is outside the Ann Arbor School District, are eligible to vote on the Library’s ballot proposal.

Where can I get more voter information?

Visit mi.gov/vote for information about registering to vote, voter ID requirements, requesting an absentee ballot, and voting precincts.

For More Information

If you have further questions about the millage request, please contact Library Director Lisa Hoenig at (734) 879-1300 or lisa@ypsilibrary.org, or come to a community information meeting

Community Information Meetings

  • Tuesday, October 2 from 2 to 3pm | YDL-Superior
  • Wednesday, October 3 from 7 to 8pm | YDL-Michigan
  • Saturday, October 6 from 2 to 3pm | YDL-Whittaker