Half of Eat Lansing library’s funding is on line in election

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Young adults at the front of the East Lansing Library.

A 10-year millage renewal for the East Lansing Public Library will be on the ballot Nov. 8.

Kristin Shelley, library director, explained the significance of the mill citizens vote on.“One mill alone won’t even pay our payroll,” Shelley said.  

Shelley noted this election’s mill is an operating millage. “It pays for staff, programs, the collection, maintenance and facilities of this building. And most recently we were able to replace the front sidewalk, and install a brand-new HVAC system. That is all thanks to millage money.” 

A millage is the rate of taxes imposed on property.

The library relies on two mills of finding. One mill is levied by the City Council. The other is voted on by citizens. One mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is taxed assessed at half its market value. One mill in taxes costs the owner of a $100,000 home $50 a year. 

“While we’re guaranteed the mill from City Council, if the mill that the people vote on doesn’t pass, then the library will be looking at reducing its services, its hours, its staff, and we won’t have the robust programs that people are used to, and we certainly won’t have the hours for people to come in, or access us digitally, or in-person,” Shelley said. 

These programs have become a staple within the library and the greater community, particularly by the schools. The library’s proximity to East Lansing High School and several neighboring schools has led to a successful after-school program.

“A lot of teens, probably between 50 to 70 on a normal day, walk down the road and hang out here after school,” said Conner Williams, circulation supervisor at the library. “We have all kinds of programs to try and get people in the community to engage with each other, and make connections, and be exposed to information and learn new things,” Williams said. 

Ali Alamery, a student at East Lansing High School, has been a long-time visitor of the library. He recalls coming to the library as a kid with his mom, and using resources, from the books he read in his early childhood, to the PlayStation he would play as a middle schooler during the after-school program.

“The library has been a really good place for me to be at when I wasn’t able to go home after school or something. It’s always been a place where I can do something,” Alamery said.

“Our millages are our budget, for the most part,” Shelley said. “They allow us to provide quality programming, collections, and a good facility for people to come in and enjoy.”

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