Committee to Discuss District Library Proposal Tuesday

Creation of a district library would give Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township equal voices in library's future, the library's director said.

A committee of representatives from Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township will meet Tuesday night to discuss drafting a proposal to form a district library. 

Christine Hage, director of the , said the creation of a district library would have little impact on the 2,200 residents who visit the library each day. But it would secure future funding for the library, and it would guarantee that each community has a voice in how it is managed, Hage said.

How the library works now

Rochester's library, which serves all three communities, was formed under Public Act 164, also known as the Township Library Act. When it was created, the library was part of Avon Township.

The library is funded by the three communities: Rochester supports the library through a general fund allotment; in 2012, $424,618 is appropriated for library expenses, 4 percent of the city's general fund budget. Rochester Hills and Oakland Township support the library through a dedicated 1 mill.

As a government, the library is its own separate entity. It is governed by an elected board of Rochester Hills residents; Rochester and Oakland Township have nonvoting liaisons on the board.

How a district library would work

Hage said that regardless of how the library is named (with Rochester Hills in its title) or where it is located (in downtown Rochester), the library provides equal service to residents of all three communities.

"We don't care where you live. The sources of funding are a little different, but the services are the same," she said.

What is unequal right now is the way it's governed; only Rochester Hills representatives are allowed to vote on library policies.

Creation of a district library could give a voice to all three municipaities. The members could be elected at large — like the school board. They could be from Rochester or Oakland Township as well as from Rochester Hills.

If a district library is formed, a board would likely be appointed, and Hage said there would be equal members appointed from each of the three communities. Then, those representatives could be elected at the next general election.

In addition to providing the chance of equal representation, Hage said a district library would help secure future funding for the library. 

"If, for example, Oakland Township decided it wanted its own library, it could break the contract and do that; they could form their own library and take that millage money with them," she said.

The third benefit of the district library formation would be participation in The Library Network. The regional library service is now limiting the borrowing of materials to residents of a library's community, so, for example, Rochester and Oakland Township residents are not able to check out TLN materials.

Under a district library, all residents of the district would be able to check out the materials.

The basics

If the library changes to a district library, most patrons would not notice a change, Hage said. The employees would remain. So would the Friends of the Rochester Hills Public Library organization. The services would remain the same, too.

"For the everyday resident who uses the library, I don't think there would be a difference," she said.

A name change for the library would be a possibility, she said.

More details about the district library will be revealed at Tuesday's meeting. Members of a district library committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the second-floor conference room of the library. The committee will discuss drafting a district library agreement that can be presented to the three municipalities.

There are nine people on the committee representing all three communities; the meeting is open to the public.

Nancy Need January 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Well, we all know how well a consortium would run, don't we, after the debacle called The Rochester City Council. Leave the library alone: it's also not going to get turned into a "Community Center" for Rochester thugs!
Terry January 17, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The debacle you are referring to is the OPC Board. The Rochester City Council is the only one of the the three cities supporting that group that had the foresight to question a ridiculous budget that increased comensation to the Director by 17%. I will agree that based on the rubber stamp mentality of the Rohester Hills City Council and th the track record of these independent boards, this is a bad idea.
JR January 17, 2012 at 05:12 PM
A few more facts: It is called the Rochester Hills Public Library in the City of Rochester on property that the Rochester DDA donated ($1mm+) with whom the City of Rochester has a contract for the provision of library services to Rochester residents in an amount equivalent to the net tax revenue created by a 1mill load, paid directly from the Rochester General Fund (about $420k). Rochester has no vote, but rather a “liaison” to represent its interests there. If Rochester agrees to go to a district library form its has no guarantee of representation either with Rochester Hills having about 80k residents, Oakland Township 17k, and Rochester about 12k. With a contract Rochester can negotiate terms it feels are appropriate. With a district form Rochester possibly gets no representative and all the taxation to build new libraries in other communities. It is a matter of record that the existing board already wants a tax increase. http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/08/24/news/local_news/doc4e555be3cef66924671329.txt Rochester said no thanks and here is the "end-around."
Joshua Raymond January 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
By my count, RCS Board of Education currently has 5 Rochester Hills residents, 1 Rochester resident, and 1 Oakland Township resident, presuming none has moved since their election filings in 2009 and 2011. Should the elected library board have the same percentages, Rochester and Oakland would have more voice than they do now, but still be minority members of the board. The discussion regarding this proposal promises to be interesting. Politics seems to infect everything. It would be great to have a more stable funding source for the library.
JR January 17, 2012 at 10:58 PM
In a declining property market, there are no millage-based "stable funding sources" without tax increases. So does everyone tighten their belt and do more with less or do you increase taxes? Since a District Library has primarily the power to tax based on operating millage rates against property values, suggesting that it would provide a more "stable funding source" without a millage rate increase is false and no improvement over the status quo. Should "minority members" really then, in effect, expose their taxpaying residents to the will of much larger "majority members" for the sake of perhaps a vote when the power to contract for services puts them at the table in better position without having an external unit of government seek to set their tax rate? Is this politics or common sense?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »