Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL)
November 5, 2019 Millage Election
When is the election?
Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Absentee voting will begin September 21st.
What is on the ballot?
The Rochester Hills Public Library Board has voted to place a ten-year 0.31 millproposal on the ballot in Rochester Hills. The elected Oakland Township LibraryBoard is in the process of deciding whether to place the 0.31 mill proposal on the November ballot in Oakland Township. The City of Rochester is evaluating whether to put the RHPL 0.31 mill proposal on their November ballot or to pay an equivalent amount from the City’s operating budget (as has been a past practice).
Who is served by the RHPL?
The Rochester Hills Public Library serves residents of Rochester Hills, the City of Rochester, and Oakland Township. It is the fifth busiest library in Michigan. The RHPL’s 70,000 library card holders check out over two million items each year, and, every month, over 45,000 residents come to RHPL to learn and to attend various programs (such as concerts, summer reading challenges, parent-child workshops, and weekly lectures).
Why has the RHPL scheduled this millage election?
The RHPL is operating on a one-mill tax levy that was approved in 1924. In 1978, Michigan voters approved the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution. This amendment put limits on Michigan tax levies and subjects them to “Headlee Rollbacks.” These rollbacks have restricted the RHPL to a current levy that is less than the one mill authorized by voters almost a century ago. (The one mill has been rolled back to 0.76 mills in Rochester Hills, to 0.71 mills in Rochester, and to 0.59 mills in Oakland Township.)
In short, the RHPL cannot continue—let alone expand—the programs and services it now provides without additional revenue.
The November 5th millage proposal is designed to:
- ✔ help support RHPL’s current level of programs and services
- ✔ help assure that RHPL’s physical facility is up-to-date and in good repair
- ✔ remodel, renovate, or upgrade furnishings and equipment that are beyond their useful life
- ✔ provide more digital materials (for example, books and videos) to meet resident demands
- ✔ support program and service expansions that address residents’ needs within the context of RHPL’s mission and vision
- ✔ assure that all renovations and upgrades comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- ✔ begin rebuilding RHPL’s fund balance
If voters approve, how will revenue from the 0.31 mill levy be used?
Primarily, millage revenue will be used to maintain current programs and services to the public, to make necessary repairs and renovations to the library building, and to begin increasing the RHPL’s fund balance.
In addition, RHPL will add some priority services that community members are requesting. For example, RHPL will assess the cost effectiveness of:
- expanding Sunday hours during the school year so students can have more time to complete school assignments;
- enhancing educational support to the community by adding materials to strengthen curriculum support to local school districts;
- subscribing to a tutoring service that would provide students one-on-one support from a certified teacher; and,
- adding more digital materials and making them available to residents as they are released.
Other expansions will be considered by the Library Board of Directors during the ten-year life of the millage proposal. All expansions will be assessed in the context of the RHPL’s mission and vision.
Will library fines be eliminated if the millage proposal is approved?
No. RHPL will continue its current policies that charge patrons fees for materials that are overdue or lost materials.
What will the 0.31 millage proposal cost?
If voters approve the RHPL millage proposal, the current tax rate is projected to increase by 0.31 mills.
To calculate your cost, multiply one-half of your home’s market value (your Taxable Value) by 0.00031. Use this formula: market value of your home divided by 2 = your taxable value. Multiply the taxable value by 0.00031 to get your annual cost.
Some example calculations appear below:
Taxable Value (Market Value /2)
($200,000 /2) = $100,000
($400,000 /2) = $200,000
($600,000 /2) = $300,000
Millage (Taxable Value X 0.00031)
($100,000 X 0.00031) = $31.00
($200,000 X 0.00031) = $62.00
($300,000 X 0.00031) = $93.00
Cost per year
Cost per day
8¢ per day
17¢ per day
25¢ per day
What will happen if the millage proposal is not approved by voters?
The RHPL will not be able to maintain its current level of programs and services, let alone expand them. In addition, most repairs, renovations, and upgrades will be delayed. Emergencies will further deplete RHPL’s fund balance.
Has the RHPL ever acted to reduce expenses?
Yes, but RHPL expenditure reductions have not resulted in reduced services to the public.
RHPL expenses declined during 2004-2017. Following the “great recession” during the last decade, RHPL revenue declined by 16 percent. As a result, RHPL froze employee wages for three years, reduced employee health care benefits, reduced contributions to employee pensions, eliminated employee life insurance, and cut continuing education opportunities for staff.
RHPL revenue is still less than it was prior to the great recession. Hence, most of the expenditure reductions remain in place.
Does RHPL have an operating fund balance?
Yes. It is approximately $200,000. For the past two years our independent financial auditors have given RHPL a “clean audit” (meaning everything is in order and proper with regard to the budget). However, the auditors have cautioned that our fund balance is dangerously low. The auditors have recommended a fund balance in the $765,000 to $900,000 range.
Why does the library need a fund balance?
Generally speaking, a fund balance is necessary to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. For example, replacing a boiler, repairing storm damage, repairing bookmobiles, fixing a leaking roof, or accommodating a change in funding legislation.
What will appear on the November 5th ballot?
Here is the draft ballot wording for the City of Rochester Hills:
DRAFT OFFICIAL BALLOT
ROCHESTER HILLS PUBLIC LIBRARY
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property within the City of Rochester Hills be increased by $0.31 per thousand dollars (0.31 mills) on all taxable property in the City of Rochester Hills for a period of ten (10) years, beginning in the year 2019 and ending in the year 2028, inclusive, as new additional millage for the purpose of providing library funds for the Rochester Hills Public Library?
A YES vote typically means that you support a proposal. Is that the case in this election?
Yes. Voters who support the Rochester Hills Public Library’s millage proposal should vote YES; voters who oppose the millage proposal should vote NO.
What will happen if voters reject the 0.31 mill proposal?
The RHPL cannot continue its current programs and services if the millage fails in Rochester Hills. If the millage passes in Rochester Hills but is not approved in either Rochester or Oakland Township, there would have to be a reduction of programs and services provided to residents of municipalities that opposed the millage request.
Who can vote in this millage proposal election?
Registered voters in the municipalities that place the proposal on the ballot.
Where can I get information about voting (such as how to register, where to vote, and absentee voting)?
Go to the Michigan Voter Information website (michigan.gov/vote) or call the Clerk’s Office where you reside.
Do I need to update my voter registration?
You need to update your voter registration if you have changed your name or address since the last time you voted. You can do this at any Secretary of State Office or at the Clerk’s Office where you reside.
Can I vote by absentee ballot?
Yes. Since voter approval of Proposition 3 in November 2018, registered voters do not need a reason to vote by absentee ballot.
Get an application from your Clerk’s Office or by going to www.michigan.gov/vote and clicking on “Absentee Voting” in the left column.
Absentee ballot applications will be accepted 75 days prior to November 5th. Absentee ballots will be available to voters after September 21.
To get more information about the millage election and answers to your questions...