2018-08-05 / Editorial

Vote yes

County Press endorses Lapeer District Library bond proposal, renewal of senior citizen and LCS operating millages

Lapeer District Library is asking voters in their service area (Arcadia, Burlington, Burnside, Deerfield, Elba, Hadley, Lapeer, Marathon, Mayfield, Metamora, Oregon and Rich townships and the City of Lapeer) to approve a bond proposal that would tax property owners at a maximum annual rate of .42 mills (42¢ per $1,000 of taxable value) for 25 years which would raise $12,600,000 to build, furnish and equip a new main library at the southwest corner of DeMille and Davison roads in Lapeer. The bond would also pay for security, technology, parking lot and landscaping at the new site.

Though much beloved, the existing Marguerite deAngeli main branch falls woefully short of providing LDL patrons with the lending materials, programing, technology — or even parking spaces — that a modern library would provide. The new library plans call for more than 30 public access computers around the building, with 12 of them being located in a new computer training classroom. The parking lot plan includes 175 spaces, including 10 designated for handicap parking, with easy access to the building and a drive-up book and A/V drop. New interior spaces would include study rooms, an expanded children’s department with space for more seating and more materials for lending and a story time room for 80 people, community meeting rooms, digital media labs, a genealogy and local history collection and an audio/visual area with more than 12,000 items to choose from and more.

The plan has been variously criticized as too expensive, too elaborate, poorly located or simply unnecessary by those who refuse to let go of the outdated, landlocked deAngeli facility. We, too, want to see the deAngeli building properly maintained and put to continued good use — hopefully as a new location for Lapeer City Hall. That property will revert to the City of Lapeer and the decision of what to do with it will fall to city leadership if the bond proposal passes.

Nostalgia should not guide us when it comes to decisions about investing in our community. And a new library is indeed an investment — a smart one. An expanded, modern library will bring our community together as more and larger groups of all ages are able to gather there to study, learn and collaborate. Various studies have shown that a significant portion of Lapeer County residents have no or poor broadband internet access. A new library will help level the digital playing field for those residents providing access to online job-seeking and educational opportunities many of us take for granted. A new library will show the rest of the world — including businesses and families considering moving to our area — that we care enough about our fellow citizens, our community and our future to invest in those things.

Although the total investment of $12,600,000 sounds daunting, we think the investment on an individual family basis is affordable. For a family whose home has a taxable value of $100,000, the maximum proposed annual cost of the new library would be $42. That’s $3.50 a month — less than the cost of a single fancy coffee drink. The bond proposal language states “the estimated simple average annual millage required to retire the bond over 25 years is .34 mills (which is equal to $0.34 per $1,000 of taxable value)” making the average cost per household even less over the term of the bond.

We understand the repulsion felt against any new tax — especially when tax dollars can seem to dissipate with no conceivable effect in our own community. But the library bond proposal will build something tangible right here, bringing an immediate, positive impact to Lapeer County citizens across a wide array of ages and interests. It will build something that will outlast most of us and serve generations to come — just as the deAngeli Library has served many generations before us.

That’s why The County Press wholeheartedly supports the Lapeer District Library Bond proposal on the August 7 ballot. Vote YES for a new Lapeer library.

Millage renewals deserve voter support

Voters county-wide will be asked to renew a one-quarter mill ($0.25 for each $1,000 of taxable property value) for four years beginning in 2019 to maintain senior citizen services such as Meals on Wheels, Personal Care and Respite Care. The millage, that was last renewed in 2014, is expected raise a little more than $700,000 per year. Paul Walker, director of the Lapeer County Senior Program under the auspices of the Lapeer County Health Dept., said all programs and services offered to senior citizens aged 60 and over are designed to keep people in their own homes as long as possible and maintain their independent lifestyle. Walker estimates Lapeer County has 17,000 residents age 60 or older — and that number is growing. Walker told The County Press, “The vast majority of what we do is unknown and under-appreciated. We want people to know we’re here and offer a lot of helpful services. We provide a vital service to the community.” The County Press agrees and we urge voters to vote YES on Tuesday on the Renewal of Millage for Senior Citizen Service.

Voters within the Lapeer Community Schools District boundary will be asked to renew the district’s non-homestead operating millage that generates approximately $6.1 million a year earmarked for general operating purposes. The millage will be levied on non-homestead properties at a total of 18 mills, and for typical homeowners there will be no additional cost for the renewal. This millage is levied on non-homestead property — industrial, commercial, business, rentals and second homes. Renewing the millage will also allow LCS to continue to receive revenues at the full per-pupil foundation allowance permitted by the state. The County Press supports renewal of this millage to fund the operation our county’s largest school district. Vote YES on Tuesday on the Lapeer Community Schools Operating Millage Renewal Proposal.

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