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Posted on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 3:38 a.m.

Voters approve new Ypsilanti District Library millage

By Tom Perkins

Voters in Ypsilanti Township, the City of Ypsilanti and Superior Township approved a new library millage.

Residents passed the .38-mill tax levy designed to help boost shrinking revenue for the Ypsilanti District Library by a margin of 57.6 percent to 42.4 percent.

The tax will generate $760,000 when levied in fiscal year 2011 and means the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 will pay an additional $19 annually.

Thumbnail image for Ypsilanti District Library_2.jpg

Voters in the Ypsilanti area gave the nod to a library millage.

Library officials have said the Ypsilanti District Library is collecting less money from its current levy while its membership concurrently increases. That has forced cuts and affected the library's purchasing power.

The library collects 1.54 mills from the City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township. Those collections generated $4.2 million in 2007. But that figure has dropped to $3.8 million in 2010 because of declining property values, and projections show another decrease of 25 percent by 2013. The library will now collect levels closer to 2007.

The district library's funding situation is unique, library officials said. They said many people are under the assumption it is government-funded, but 92 percent of its revenues are generated from property taxes.

Library Director Jill Morey said state aid allowances continue to drop, money was lost because of the Headlee Amendment, interest on library accounts has stagnated and money collected from Washtenaw County court fines has declined. The library would have continued to draw from its fund balance, which would have been depleted by 2014, Morey said.

The library has seen an almost 400 percent increase in circulation since 2002 and loaned nearly 1 million pieces last year. The number of residents partaking in programs has doubled at the same time to 44,000 in 2009.

Morey said the YDL's situation is unusual because membership and usage has risen dramatically, while revenues have dropped significantly.

"This will help us maintain the high level of service we offer," she said. "Had the millage not passed, we would have been looking at cuts, and what this vote is saying is that people value the quality service that they’ve received and, of course, we will continue to provide that."

Library officials estimate 80,000 cards are currently issued. Library programs have become particularly popular with more than 40,000 residents participating in 2,118 individual classes and programs in 2009.

"This vote makes me think that people understand the value of their library," Morey said. "I know it’s a sacrifice for people to add additional taxes. Like everyone, we expect the economy to turn around and we’re going to live within our means, so this will help us do that until such time we do see an increase in tax assessments. And that’s something that everyone in local government looks forward to."

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.


information please

Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

Shelly, no one "sneaked in under the library issue." The library is just following the existing state laws in writing the ballot language. Yes, it's sort of annoying that State law requires that all the bodies that capture the Library's taxes must be listed on the ballot, as it was extremely confusing to voters. But it's even more annoying that these bodies capture the library's taxes. What the ballot language means is that a portion of the taxes on properties that are geographically located in these Tax Increment Finance Authorities (TIFA's) are captured for other projects. Libraries seldom have a say in this, and it's completely normal in Michigan for this to happen. So, for example, a portion of the taxes on properties in the Downtown DDA that are levied by the library will actually be collected by the DDA. This is true of the library's current operating levy as well. There is a good explanation of TIFA's here:|default.asp&objectid=EDAE7210-3&area_2=pages%2Fgovernment%2Ftifa%2FFAQ&NC=71X Libraries in Michigan are beginning to lobby to try to be excluded from these authorities at the state level in the same way that the public schools are currently. About 92% of the library's revenues come from property taxes, so it's a critical issue for YDL, and all Michigan libraries. There's a good blog posting on this issue from the Director of the Ann Arbor District Library: Since YDL is a district library, it's particularly confusing, since there was a long list of TIFA's that many have probably never heard of. It also makes it appear that the taxes that a city resident is paying will go to the townships' TIFA's. That's clearly not the case, since the taxes are only captured on the properties that are geographically located in the TIFA, and they go to a TIFA that was approved by the jurisdiction where the property is located. I understand that this may have lost the millage some votes, since it is a complex issue on which to educate the public. Fortunately, it passed despite this challenge.


Thu, Nov 4, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

It's too bad that the amount being sent to the other organizations wasn't clearly spelled out in the proposal. I also voted against the proposal due to the wording ("a portion" of the funds I believe is how it was worded). I am a huge supporter of the library, and use it often. I just didn't want to fund something that was far less than transparent.


Thu, Nov 4, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

Great news for the Library!!! Anyone who visits the library these days will see how well attended it is. I am happy for the library as it was once practically vacant inside.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 : 6:07 a.m.


dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 : 5:56 a.m.

this is great news! i don't see any stories about the township's police protection millage...


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

Shelly & TooT- Here's a little info from the YDL website ( It looks like about.5% of the millage gets split between these four entities. A TIFA - Tax Increment Finance Authority - is created by a municipality to encourage economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and historic preservation in specific development areas. These local tax "captures" vary from municipality to municipality and, though all of these TIFAs are required by law to be listed in the ballot language, taxes collected from each municipality pay only for their own "TIFA." In other words, as an example, taxpayers in Superior or Ypsilanti Township will not see any of their tax money go towards the "City of Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority." What is important to know is that, historically, less than one-half of one percent (.5%) of the librarys overall tax revenue - and the proposed millage - would be allotted to these entities.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

Shelly "Where is the mention of the 4 entities that sneaked in under the library issue to get funding for themselves? Must be a good tactic since it worked. I wonder how much of the money going to these 5 places will actually end up with the library and not the other 4." This was the reason I didn't vote for it but nobody seems to care. I'd like to know just how much the library will get in the end? I bet not much of the pie...


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Where is the mention of the 4 entities that sneaked in under the library issue to get funding for themselves? Must be a good tactic since it worked. I wonder how much of the money going to these 5 places will actually end up with the library and not the other 4.

Forest City

Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

Great news.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 6:18 a.m.

Tom - Good for the Library & good for the voters on this! BTW: that 80,000 figure was incorrect in the last article (see some good info in the comments there)and should be corrected here. Library cards in the District have shot up to 82% - a 30-plus percent increase since 2002 - but I don't know where the 80,000 number came from.