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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 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."

Todd July 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM
The anti-tax panel convinced me that voting "YES" is my only option on August 2nd.
Lucille Musser Arking July 29, 2011 at 12:55 AM
voting yes is our best option. TCU is just not believable when you look at the math.
Audre Zembrzuski July 29, 2011 at 04:57 AM
It is a shame that so many people don't see the truth. When the city said this was for the Library only, now on the ballot it says $3,383 is for Local Development Finance Authority, $50,020 for DDA, and $129 for Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Now how can this be a state law, when all along they have said it is ALL for the Library. Who is lieing to the people, the city or TCU, I have lost a lot of faith in this city, So I recommand to everyone to vote NO on this tax issue. Audre Zembrzuski resident of 34 years.
Sue Martin July 29, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Audre, that's the law. If a business in the DDA is paying this tax, THEIR PORTION of the tax must go to the DDA. They cannot opt out of the tax. EVERY RESIDENT DOLLAR will go to the library.
joyce mann July 29, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Can you explain when the law came about that businesses, only, had to give a portion of this tax to Local Development Finance Authority, DDA, and Brownfield Redevelopment; and how our residential taxes will only be used for the library. I believe this is where Troy Citizens United and the Tea Party seem to be a bit confused according to the flyer I received yesterday in the mail and what I heard at the meeting on Wednesday.
Sue Martin July 29, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Here is a link to the DDA page on the city website. The current DDA budget link explains that our DDA was established in 1993 and have been capturing taxes since then. http://www.troymi.gov/DowntownDevelopmentAuthority/
George Stager III July 30, 2011 at 04:20 AM
There should not be a tax increase, there's no reason for it. They could simply cut funding in other area's, but they won't because everyone wants to keep their salaries. Why not do a volunteer working library, seriously. Is THIS tax hike the best solution? NO.
Cathy Fucinari July 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM
According to State Law, taxes on designated commercial properties in the (Primarily in the Big Beaver Corridor) go to those authorities. RESIDENTIAL tax dollars will not. If there were no DDA, those dollars would go to the State of Michigan. TCU is lying. The city has explained the process of capturing those commercial dollars in the defined Big Beaver Corridor many many times.
Dale Murrish July 30, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Did anyone ask Mary Kerwin why she and others on the council voted no in May on a budget proposal that included $2.4M for the library? Or why the city has 22% of its annual budget in the reserve fund, when its stated goal is 10-15%? Reducing the reserves to 15% would free up $4.1 million, 16 months of library funding at the proposed new level. Reducing them to 10% would fund the library for 27 months. The current council doesn't have a track record of spending our money wisely. They're planning to ask for another 1 mill in November. How big a savings account do we really need? Please join me August 2 in voting no on the tax increase. If the council refuses to rework the budget to keep the library open, then we can vote for new leadership in November.
Lucille Musser Arking July 30, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Dear George , I do not understand how you can take the data available from many sourses besides Tand analsys it
Lucille Musser Arking July 30, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Dear Dale, Please read city council archives on the internet at city web site and you can read why she did vote that way with a majority of the other city council persons . You need to read and follow the process then you do not need to listen to party dissortions . You will know on your own . I learned that in 1968 . today the internet and public tv makes it easier to do so. Thank you for reading this advice
Kevin Elliott July 30, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Downtown Development Authority Act of 1975: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-act-197-of-1975.pdf How a bill becomes a law: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TI8xqLl_-w
Dale Murrish August 01, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Thanks, Lucille. It was a rhetorical question. I just wanted to make sure people were aware that the council majority rejected a budget proposal that could have kept the library open. The people said no to a 1.0 mill increase last November. Instead of listening to the people and funding the library from the general budget, the council majority has spent $90K on a special election and $12K for a "neutral" election mailing opposed by some council members. There is plenty of information out there (Troy Patch has a sampling of pro and con web sites). The council majority is making a power play: give us our tax increase on Tuesday or we'll close your library on Friday before the next council meeting. I hope the voters will remember that in November.
William Cowger August 01, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Yes... the council majority rejected rolling the dice to fund the library out of the fund balance. Cities can not get insurance for man made or natural disasters, and since Troy is the only city in the state that has an absolute cap, the fund balance is the only source of disaster funds. Now look at the actual numbers. The fund balance is $12.3M but the budget calls for spending $2.7M more this year that revenue, so it is actually $9.7M. The 3 year budget calls for it to reduce to $6M... 12% of revenue, and less than the cost of operations from a full tornado. And you want to fund a library out of that?
Cathy Fucinari August 01, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Well, Dale....First you have to have a viable proposal. Not one that uses fictional money. Vote yes so that the library will have actual, sustainable funding.
Lucille Musser Arking August 01, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Sorry ,that budget proposal was funny accounting . Please do not make the mistake of believing there is money to keep the library open . It will surely close on friday without the millage .

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