Friday, August 26, 2011

Rochester Michigan's Mayor: Library "Revenue Discussion" Needs "Efficiency Perspective"

Tax increase proposed for Rochester Hills library. (Oakland Press, 8/24/2011)

Excerpt:     Like most public entities, the Rochester Hills Public Library has seen its revenue stream decline in the last few years due to falling property values. So far, the belt tightening hasn’t affected services.

“But now we’re to the bone,” said library director Christine Lind Hage. “We can’t keep going on like this.”

The library is owned by the Rochester Hills Library Board and receives tax revenue from the cities of Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township. Residents of all three communities receive equal access to library services for equivalent tax contributions, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township through dedicated millages, Rochester through a contribution from its general fund.

A joint task force representing all three municipalities has been studying the revenue outlook. On Monday, the city of Rochester’s library liaison, Renee Myers, approached city council with the idea of increasing the city’s contribution by 0.25 mills, about $24 on the average home.

But the request was not met favorably by council. Mayor Jeff Cuthbertson said the city has cut its own expenses by 33 percent, while the library has only cut 15 percent.

“We’ve taken a very, very circumspect approach to the budget,” he said. “Revenue has never really entered our vernacular here. … So I think to get to a revenue discussion, there’s more work to be done from an efficiency perspective.

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