After thinking it over for two weeks, the Belleville Area District Library Board rescinded its July 27 decision to ask the public to approve 1.35 mills in perpetuity for library operation on the Nov. 2 ballot.
At its regular meeting, Aug. 10, a new motion was passed to, instead, ask voters in the tri-community of Belleville, Van Buren and Sumpter, for .7 mills for 12 years to operate the library.
Sumpter voters approved the .7 mill tax levy for library operation several years ago when the township board said they couldn’t afford to give general fund money to the library. The .7 mill tax, if approved in November by voters in the tri-communities, would replace the current .7 mill levy in Sumpter, with no increase for Sumpter taxpayers.
Van Buren Township and the City of Belleville currently support the library out of their general funds and the passage of the millage would allow Van Buren and Belleville to use those earmarked funds for other things. The property owners in Van Buren and Belleville would see a .7 mill increase on their taxes beginning in December.
Lara Bassett from the law firm of Miller Canfield, Paddock and Stone was present at the Aug. 10 meeting to give legal advice on the ballot proposal. She already had furnished board members with election law and candidate information.
Also on the November ballot will be the election for the permanent library district board. All but one member of the interim, appointed board is running for election, along with two newcomers.
Interim Board member Joy Cichewicz, who made the motion for 1.35 mills at the July 27 meeting and then the motion to rescind that 1.35 mill motion at the Aug. 10 meeting, said after the permanent board is elected and the .7 mill approved, the board can always go back to voters later for additional operational millage and for a bond to build a new library and satellite library in Sumpter.
John Juriga, who is a candidate for the library board, encouraged the board to seek a millage for a certain period, not “in perpetuity.”
“They [voters] like to know it will end,” Juriga said.
In other business, the interim library board:
* Extended the employment agreement with attorney John Day for legal services until the board’s January meeting, set for 1/11/11;
* Approved the two-year, at-will employment agreement for Library Director Deb Green with the understanding there will be an annual evaluation, on a 5-1 vote. Interim Board member Elaine Guiterrez voted no because she was convinced it would be better to have it in writing in the agreement that there would be an annual evaluation;
* Unanimously passed updated policies on Attorney Use, Social Security Number Privacy, Circulation, and Collection Development Guidelines. The policy on Internet Use will wait for action until certain details are clarified;
* Learned a Resolution concerning the district library from Sumpter Township officials was expected to be passed at the township’s Aug. 10 meeting, but was not brought to the table;
* Approved purchase of a file server to replace the LOL (Little Old Lady) currently in use;
* Approved in advance two insurance payments every month to assure the bills are paid on time, a problem because of a conflict between the billing cycle and the monthly meeting date. Blue Cross Blue Shield Dental is $399.91 and Medical Alliance Health is $4,156.79 monthly;
* Learned the penal fines are down more than expected for the 2009/10 fiscal year. The fines were projected at $75,000, down from $80,000 the previous year, but the actual amount for 2009/10 was only $42,388. This will cause them to dip into the fund balance more than expected. Some of the decrease is just an overall drop in penal fines and motor vehicles fines collected, but a larger part is because as a district library and not a Wayne County branch, Belleville no longer benefits from the Romulus Police Department’s “extraordinary collection” of speeding ticket fees, the Librarian’s Report stated;
* Learned a $10,000 anonymous donation has been made to the library to use wherever needed;
* Learned Can (John) Gokcek has been hired as a 10-hour-per-week technology student assistant. He will be a junior at Belleville High School this fall and possesses a great knowledge of computer networks and operating systems; and
* Learned a student in library graduate school, Elizabeth Machie, who has lived in the community for several years (daughter of Juliet Machie, Associate Director of the Detroit Public Library) started as a library volunteer on Aug. 4. A new resident, Sandra Loveland, retired as public library director from Cave Creek, Arizona, will start volunteering in September.
At the end of the meeting, interim board members voiced relief that the millage request was scaled back.
“I’m relieved we changed it,” said Cichewicz, adding, “We were dealing with political ramifications.”
“The bigger picture is keeping the district library in existence,” said Interim Board Secretary Chris Brasil. “I’m glad we went down.”
Guiterrez said she was glad the interim board passed the ballot language so it could be on the November ballot.
Interim Board Member Mike Boelter suggested others might like to see the new Dexter District Library, where they are glad to give tours. He said the community is smaller than this one.
Interim Board President Mary Jane Dawson also said she was glad that they changed the proposed millage number.
“I think it’s going to be easier for the public,” Dawson said.
Among those present in the audience at the meeting were candidates for the library board in the November election, Harry Van Gelder and John Juriga.