Libraries worry about PPT elimination

By Mary Drier
Staff Writer
TUSCOLA COUNTY — Basically, every entity in Michigan that levies a millage will lose revenue if the proposal to eliminate personal property tax (PPT) for businesses becomes law.
Tuscola County Equalization Director Walt Schlichting estimates overall the libraries in the county stand to lose about $117,550 if the proposal to eliminate PPT passes and it’s not replaced with another form of taxation.
‘Libraries have taken several financial hits over the years,” said Rawson Memorial Library Director Kate Van Auken.
Since 2000, county libraries have seen a 76 percent decrease in State Aid and a 33 percent decrease in penal fines – both of which are constitutionally mandated to go to libraries.
“And, it’s not just libraries. It’s everyone who uses a millage to operate… fire, police, ambulance,” said Auken. “It hits every dedicated millage there is. They (lawmakers) just don’t seem to understand the overall impact this will have!”
“It is crucial that our elected officials remember libraries are taxing authorities on par with counties, townships and cities. If personal property tax is eliminated, it must be replaced with another system that will restore revenue not only to governmental units but to libraries, as well as other entities with dedicated millages,” continued Van Auken.
The following is a list of the libraries in Tuscola County, the millage they levy, and the impact the elimination of PPT would have on each:
The Bullard Sanford Memorial Library in Vassar levies 1.25 mills, and could lose about $18,055.
The Caro District Library in Caro levies 1.4909 mills, and could lose about $51,543. However, when other factors are taken into consideration, the loss has the potential to be about $77,500. If the proposed law also includes Renaissance zone and Tax Incriminate financing (TIF).
Even before that PPT proposal the Caro District Library was reviewing finances, and officials decided to start charging out of district residents $20 per year for use of library services as a way to raise revenue.
The Fairgrove District Library in Fairgrove levies about .7916 of a mill, and could lose about $4,171.
The Mayville District Library in Mayville levies about .8468 of a mill, and could lose about $5,292.
The Millington – Arbela District Library in Millington levies about 1.0955 mills, and could lose about $8,267.
The Rawson Memorial Library in Cass City levies about 1.0955 mills, and could lose about $15,533.
The Unity Library in Reese levies about .9965 of a mill, and could lose about $12,533.
Also in August, voters in Columbia Township approved a new tax of up to 1 mill to support their library. It was estimated the tax would generate about $45,000 the first year; but if PPT is eliminated it could mean about $1,600.
“To small libraries, $1,600 is a lot,” said Schlichting.
There are only two libraries in the county that won’t take a financial hit because they are not funded with a millage. The Watertown Township Library in Fostoria is one, and the other is the Jacquelin E. Opperman Library in Kingston.
“We are the only township library in Tuscola County that is funded just on penal fines,” said Watertown Township Clerk Barbara Tanks.
The Jacquelin E. Opperman Library is also only funded with penal fines.
“Plus, it helps that we are housed inside the Kingston School,” said Director Glenna Ford.
Van Auken also pointed out that during difficult economic times, libraries are more important than ever.
“Library usage has risen dramatically, including library visits, programming and computer usage. For the Tuscola County libraries, computer usage is up from 8-10 percent in the past five years depending on the library’s location,” she said. “Computer usage is up mainly because many patrons can no longer afford to pay for the Internet at home.”
Concerned residents are asked to contact their lawmakers about the proposed changes. House Rep. Kurt Damrow can be reached at (517) 373-0476 or e-mailed at kurtdamrow@-house.mi.gov. Mi. Senator Mike Green can be reached at (517) 373-1777 or by mail sent to 805 Farnum Building, P. O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.

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