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Published: Monday, 8/5/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Southeast Michigan weighs library, school decisions

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
DJ Duquette, 9, rides home after visiting the Deerfield Branch Library, part of the Lenawee District Library, in Deerfield. DJ Duquette, 9, rides home after visiting the Deerfield Branch Library, part of the Lenawee District Library, in Deerfield.
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The recently formed Lenawee District Library seeks voter approval of a millage to fund the new library system.

The district library, formed in November, 2012, placed a 10-year, 0.6-mill levy request on Tuesday’s special election ballot.

If approved, it would generate about $968,400 in its first year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $30 a year.

A half-dozen libraries came together to form the district library system, which covers much of the Lenawee County except those municipalities with their own independently supported library, such as the city of Adrian.

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Millage money would replace declining county funding and allow the libraries to restore trimmed hours of operation, interim director Trevor Van Valkenburg said.

“The county has always funded us, but our funding has been cut significantly over the last few years,” he said. “We decided to look for a more secure source of funding. That’s why we created the district library.”

The library’s budget dropped from about $800,000 three or four years ago to an estimated $575,000, including roughly $360,000 from the county, Mr. Van Valkenburg said.

If the millage is approved, county funding would halt in January. If it fails, the county has agreed to continue funding at the same rate through 2014, but there’s no funding guarantee after that, he said.

The millage request is among the races and proposals Michigan voters in Lenawee, Hillsdale, and Monroe counties will decide during the special election. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Blissfield Community Schools, a 1,240-student school district, seeks a 10-year, 1.25-mill sinking fund millage to pay for building projects and repairs.

The tax levy would generate $312,500 in its first year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $62.50 a year, Superintendent Scott Moellenberndt said.

The funds would pay for new exterior windows, air conditioning, and electrical upgrades at the elementary school.

Classrooms throughout the district, including high school science labs, would be remodeled with new lighting, flooring, and furniture, he said.

Also seeking a sinking fund millage is Jefferson Schools in Monroe County. The roughly 2,000-student district seeks a 9-year, 0.95-mill levy would pay for roof replacements, security system, boiler, and bathroom upgrades, among other improvements.

“It is critical that we have a successful election because we have aging facilities,” Superintendent Craig Haugen said.

The levy would generate $878,601 in its first year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $47.50 a year.

Other proposals and races on Tuesday’s ballot:

● Hillsdale County residents will consider renewal of a 911 operating surcharge from 2015 to 2020, in the amount up to $3 per telephone per month.

● Jonesville residents will select nine people to serve on a charter commission to develop a city charter, another step in the Hillsdale County village’s plans to incorporate as a city. Residents seeking a spot on the charter commission are: John Ciaravino, Betty J. Fast, Ron Hayes, Les Hutchinson, Scott Leising, James O. Marks, Andy Penrose, Jim Pope, David T. Steel, and Mike Venturini.

● Voters in the Hillsdale County village of Waldron will decide whether to reduce the number of council trustees from six to four.

● Hillsdale Community Schools seeks renewal of a 5-year, 1.99-mill sinking fund tax levy.

● The top two vote-getters in the Hillsdale city clerk primary will advance to the November election. Candidates are Marybeth Bail, Amy A. England, Baillie Jones, and Robilyn Swisher.

● Adrian voters will begin the process of selecting three commissioner candidates from hopefuls John Dudas, Allen Heldt, Chuck Jacobson, Andrew Munson, Jeffrey Clark Pardee, Jeff Rising, and Milo Warren. The top six vote-getters move on to the November election, where voters will fill three commission seats.

● Clinton Community Schools, which includes portions of Lenawee County, will ask voters to renew a 5-year, 1-mill sinking fund levy.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com, 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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