Grand Rapids Press Editorial:
Why you should vote 'yes' on Kent District Library tax proposal

2014 Millage Information

On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Kent District Library residents will vote on a 1.28 mills ballot proposal to provide funding for KDL for 10 years. The 1.28 millage rate consists of a renewal of the 0.88 mills levy, which has been in place since 2000, and an additional 0.4 mills. The additional millage rate is necessary for the library to sustain service and offer much-needed technology upgrades that have been deferred due to declining revenue. Without laying off staff, KDL has cut over $1.6 million in expenses in the last three years to continue living within our means.

The KDL property tax millage provides 90% of the funding for services offered at 18 KDL branch locations and online, including all library materials, technology, staff and programs.

The proposed 1.28 mills will provide for continued access to:

The proposed rate will allow KDL to offer more convenient hours, additional materials and necessary technology upgrades.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions:

    1. Who can vote?
    2. What will be on the ballot?
    3. What does the KDL millage pay for?
    4. Why is KDL requesting a higher millage rate?
    5. Why is KDL requesting the renewal rate and additional millage levy on one ballot question, rather than two?
    6. How much will this cost?
    7. How would the millage money be spent?
    8. How will the KDL election results impact my local branch?
    9. What happens if the August 5 millage does not pass?
    10. What if I have additional questions?

 

Answers:

    1. Who can vote?


      Kent District Library serves over 395,000 residents from 27 municipalities in Kent County with the exception of those who live in the cities of Grand Rapids and Cedar Springs, the village of Sparta, and Solon and Sparta townships. Residents of those areas are served by our neighbor libraries. Please click here to view a map of KDL's service area.

      • To register to vote or for additional voting information, visit www.michigan.gov
      • Last Day to Register to Vote: Monday, July 7
      • Last Day to Request an Absentee Ballot: Saturday, August 2 (before 2:00 PM)
        at your city / township clerk's office


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    2. What will be on the ballot?


      Below is the exact language that will be on the back side of the ballot during the August 5 election. By law, the ballot language must include each unit of government to which the millage revenue will be disbursed, which is why various local tax captures are identified. These areas will receive a very small portion of the millage revenue generated only from within their legal boundaries.

       

      KENT DISTRICT LIBRARY MILLAGE PROPOSAL
      1.28 MILLS FOR 10 YEARS

      Shall Kent District Library be authorized to levy a tax annually upon the taxable value of all property subject to ad valorem taxation within the district of Kent District Library in an amount not to exceed 1.28 mills ($1.28 for each $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of ten (10) years, 2014 through 2023, inclusive, to provide funds for district library purposes?

      The following is for informational purposes:

      This millage is a renewal of the previously authorized millage of 0.88 mills which expired following the 2013 levy, and a new additional millage of 0.4 mills, for a total authorized millage of 1.28 mills ($1.28 for each $1,000 of taxable value). This millage is estimated to provide revenues of $20,060,000 in the first year of the levy.

      To the extent required by law, a portion of the revenues from this millage (estimated to be approximately 1.1% in the first year of the levy) will be captured by or disbursed to certain local authorities for authorized purposes. The following local authorities capture or receive disbursements of a portion of the Kent District Library millage to the extent required by law: The Downtown Development Authorities of the Cities of Grandville, Lowell, Rockford, Walker, and Wyoming, the Village of Kent City, the Townships of Bowne (Alto) and Byron, and the Charter Townships of Cascade and Plainfield; the Kent County Land Bank Authority; and the Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities of the Cities of Grandville, Kentwood, Rockford, Walker, and Wyoming.

      Yes  _____
       No  _____


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    3. What does the KDL millage pay for?


      The Kent District Library property tax millage provides 90% of the funding for services offered at 18 branch locations and online, including all library materials, technology, staff and programs.

      KDL circulates more than 6 million physical and digital items a year to over 240,000 active cardholders and offers services such as:


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    4. Why is KDL requesting a higher millage rate?


      The proposed 1.28 mills will provide KDL with sufficient funding to offer residents continued access to:

      The proposed rate will also allow KDL to offer more convenient hours, additional materials and necessary technology upgrades.

      In the last few years, property tax revenue, which constitutes 90% of KDL's budget, has declined significantly. KDL's 2014 revenue is at the same level as it was in 2006. To continue living within our means, KDL has cut over $1.6 million in expenses in the last three years. While KDL has never laid off staff, most budget cuts were in personnel costs and are attributed to reducing overall staff through attrition (including a notable reduction in management positions), migrating pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution, and having employees share 20% of their health care costs. Additionally, the budget for purchasing collection materials was reduced by over $300,000 in the last year alone. If renewed, the expiring 0.88 mills would not provide enough funding to continue existing services.

      KDL has served nearly 400,000 residents in 27 municipalities with a 0.88 millage rate for 14 years. More than 60% of these residents are active library users. Both KDL residents, and our municipal partners, who own and operate the library facilities, are requesting additional services such as more convenient hours in more locations, more digital materials and much needed technology upgrades to meet demand for wireless and other services.


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    5. Why is KDL requesting the renewal rate and additional millage levy on one ballot question, rather than two?


      The 1.28 millage rate was determined by projecting the budgetary amount needed to allow for sustained access to library services and to provide the additional hours, material and technology upgrades that KDL customers and municipalities are requesting. KDL has made over $1.6 million in budget cuts in the last three years. To renew the library's 0.88 mills would result in a continuation of service reductions because of declining property tax revenue. The library administration believes it is fiscally responsible to ask voters to support the amount of funding needed.


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    6. How much will this cost?


      To levy 1.28 mills means property owners would pay $1.28 for each $1,000 of their property's taxable value. Taxable value is roughly 50% of a home's retail cost. For instance, a $150,000 house would have a taxable value of approximately $75,000.

      The average taxable value for property in Kent District Library's service area is $79,252. The average household would pay $8.41 per month for the KDL millage. This is only $2.58 more per month than the previous library millage levy of 0.88 mills.

      To determine the value of KDL services for your family, please utilize the Library Use Value Calculator. It will help you understand how much you would pay out-of-pocket for your library services. For our entire service population, KDL offers a return of $15 in services for every $1 in tax support.

      For more details on the anticipated budget for KDL, please see How would the millage money be spent?


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    7. How would the millage money be spent?


      The following services are contingent upon revenue generated by a 1.28 millage rate. See also, How will the KDL election results impact my local branch?


      Staffing for Additional Services

      Additional Books, Media and Digital Materials

      • Reduce customer wait time for popular items, especially needed to meet increasing demand for eBooks and other digital formats. Demand for eBooks currently results in an average wait time of over 12 days.
      • Expand youth and teen collections, both in print and digital formats, to help students find what they need for school and what they want for fun.

      Technology

      • Upgrade KDL's wireless service to increase speed and improve customer service. Nearly 25% of KDL residents do not have Internet access at home and the library's current wireless network is at maximum capacity.
      • Improve technology-related programming and services for job seekers and students.


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    8. How will the KDL election results impact my local branch?


      If the 1.28 mills levy passes, service improvements will be noticed at every KDL branch. While not every branch will experience additional hours, several will. All KDL customers can expect to see the following:

      • More available library materials resulting in reduced wait time, especially for eBooks and eAudiobooks.
      • Library staff with designated time to devote to mutually-beneficial community partnerships, especially where such partnerships benefit young children and students.
      • More technology-related programming, such as computer classes offered in Spanish at certain KDL branches and more technology assistance offered as outreach service in the community.
      • A wireless network with the capacity to meet the needs of users at all KDL locations.


      For more details on the anticipated budget for KDL, please see How would the millage money be spent?

      For an alternative scenario, please see What happens if the August 5 millage does not pass?


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    9. What happens if the August 5 millage does not pass?


      If the millage doesn't pass on August 5, spending reductions will need to be made immediately in order to extend KDL funds as long as possible. (This is just as if a family member lost his or her job and the household needed to reduce expenses.) KDL's Board of Trustees will have several days after the August election to determine the millage rate and file ballot language for the November election. Because funding from the previous 0.88 mills expires at the end of 2014, KDL must pass a millage levy in order to continue operations in 2015.


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    10. What if I have additional questions?


      If you have additional questions about the upcoming millage, please post them on our blog and we will respond as quickly as possible.


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For More Information:

If you have questions, please contact:

  • Lance Werner, Executive Director
    616-784-2091
    lwerner@kdl.org

  • Heidi Nagel, Communications Manager
    616-647-4146
    hnagel@kdl.org

  • You can also post questions on our blog and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Additional Materials: