A2Y Chamber endorses downtown Ann Arbor library proposal but stays neutral on public art tax
The chamber believes having a modern library in downtown Ann Arbor will draw many visitors and will be an asset to the overall community and business climate.
"While we recognize there may be concerns regarding the timing and magnitude of the proposal, we believe that the library has made a reasonable and valid case for its proposal," the chamber said of the Ann Arbor District Library's $65 million bond proposal.
The tax, appearing as Proposal B on the Nov. 6 ballot, would cost the owner a $200,000 home about $10 a year. It would replace the city's controversial Percent For Art Program, which siphons off a percent of the money the city spends on capital projects to pay for art.
The chamber said it at least appreciates the proponents of Proposal B for having the foresight to put the question before the voters.
"This proposal's fate at the ballot box will give policy makers a clearer picture of the citizens' desire to specifically fund public art," the chamber stated.
On the library proposal, the chamber took a stance that the current building is antiquated and not conducive to providing the types of services and resources demanded of a 21st century library.
Renovating the current building, the chamber stated, would entail considerable costs and would not provide long-term solutions.
"In addition, and at least as significantly as the other reasons, the Library Board has proven itself to be a responsible steward of the public's money," the chamber stated. "They have built first-class branches without incurring debt, and for many years have voluntarily chosen to levy less than the full amount of taxes which it could otherwise levy."
The chamber already came out in support of the merger of Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools earlier this year, but it's now reiterating that message.
"The operating millage is not a tax increase, but simply keeps in place the existing operating millage that is already levied in each district," the chamber stated, noting failure to approve the millage would result in an estimated $8.9 million shortfall in revenue.
That would further exacerbate the financial challenges of the new district and make it highly unlikely that it could survive, the chamber stated.
"Failure to approve this millage proposal has the potential for the imposition of an emergency manager being appointed to run the district," the chamber stated. "For these reasons, the chamber believes that the passage of this operating millage is essential for the success of the newly created entity and for the educational prospects of the children it will serve."
The chamber next week plans to release its positions on statewide ballot issues and responses it received to a questionnaire sent to candidates for local, state and federal office.