Televised Town Hall Meeting Draws Spirited Discussion on Troy Library
Troy residents showed up in person, online and over the telephone to show the support or opposition to a proposed library millage.
Differing interpretations of the city's budget and disbelief that the Troy Public Library will be shuttered without passage of a dedicated millage separated panelists Wednesday at a town hall debate televised by Community Media Network TV.
"The library is not going to close," said Bob Gosselin, an Oakland County commissioner and former Troy City Council member. "No one will go on record to say they will vote to close the library because it's not going to happen."
Proponents of a library millage to be decided by voters on Aug. 2 disagreed.
The proposed millage would create a 0.7 mill property tax that would be levied for five years with the purpose of providing exclusive funding for the city's library.
City officials said the library will close in August if the millage isn't approved. General fund contributions for library staff and supplies aren't included in the city's current budget.
Troy Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Kerwin -- one of the six panelists participating in the discussion -- said City Council already voted to close the library by moving the ballot question forward.
Additional panelists included Janice Daniels and Dan Brake, who represented Troy Citizens United, an anti-tax group that opposes the millage; Phillip Kwik, head of pubic services at the Troy library; and Sue Martin, who represented TRUST of Troy, a group in favor of the millage.
Discussions became heated at times while discussing the city's budget and whether or not City Council should approve funding the library from the city's general fund balance.
"My concern was that it was fair and both sides got to present their message," said Charlie Langton, a legal analyst for WJBK TV who moderated the discussion. "I thought the panelists were very well informed and spirited."
Langton kept discussions moving during the hour-long show by attempting to minimize interruptions. At one point, Langton asked Brake to refrain from making personal attacks following comments directed at Kerwin.
"We can all agree the library is indispensable," Langton said. "That's the only thing you may be able to agree upon."