Alpena County Library board decides not to seek property tax increase

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena County Library employee Don LaBarre takes a few moments outside the library’s Special Collections department to put some books on a shelf. The library will in August ask voters to approve less tax money than originally anticipated.

ALPENA — The Alpena County Library Board of Trustees intends to ask residents for less property tax money during the August primary election.

The board had intended to seek a renewal of its current millage and an increase for operations and to fund projects that weren’t included in the 20-year, 0.25-mill property tax that voters approved in 2019 for major renovations to the library’s campus.

If voters approve the 0.7462-mill renewal, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $37.31 a year.

The additional increase would have added about $7.69 a year for a home with the same value, but the board is no longer considering that increase.

The owner of a $100,000 house pays about $12.50 a year for that 0.25-mill tax.

Last week, Jessica Luther, assistant director of the library, told The News that, if the renewal didn’t pass, the library may have to close after its savings are extinguished.

She added that, if the renewal passes, but the increase fails, the library may have to reduce its hours of operations and some current programs could be changed or cut.

Board of Trustees President Joe Garber said Friday that, at a meeting earlier this week, the board decided not to seek the tax increase and to focus on getting the renewal passed so the library can continue to operate.

Garber said that, without the additional revenue from the now-nixed increase, library officials may have to change operations, but that likely wouldn’t happen this year.

“We were worried about what would happen if people approved the lowest request and didn’t approve the renewal,” he said. “If that would be the case, we wouldn’t be able to operate at all on just that. It wouldn’t be a preference to reduce hours, but we have our budget set for this year and I don’t think that will happen now. Some of these things will be considered for the 2025 budget and after we know if the renewal passes or not.”

Last week, Luther said the library located in downtown Alpena serves about 4,000 people each month, and most of them use the library for much more than just checking out a book. There are many programs, events, and technical tools, like computers, available to the public.

Originally, the library had the renewal and the increase included in one ballot proposal, but the Alpena County Board of Commissioners voted down the language for the ballot. The commissioners said both property tax requests should be separate on the ballot so voters had options on the degree to which they wanted to support the library.

The primary election is on Aug. 6.


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