BY MATT TROUTMAN
---- — KALKASKA — Kalkaska County voters recently may have received a flyer labeled “Voter Information Open Immediately.”
Inside, the headline reads “No new taxes!” and encourages voters on May 7 to reject a proposed .87 millage to fund a new Kalkaska County Library building.
Marilyn Coville, head of the Kalkaska New Library Building Committee, said the flyer may claim “information,” but it really provides the opposite.
”There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she said.
The library has long hoped to construct a new building that would allow it to move from its cramped location at 247 S. Cedar Street. The Kalkaska County Board of Commissioners in January approved putting a millage proposal to fund the project on a special election ballot. Now, supporters and opponents are making their cases through mailings, open houses and public meeting appearances.
Tom Backers, head of Citizens 4 Better Government, said his tea party-linked group sent the anti-millage flyers to almost 2,200 voters. They plan an April 29 forum on the issue. He said the ballot language amounts to a blank check because it does not specifically mention a new library.
”The language in the way it’s written does not include the bond issue or any oversight by the commission,” he said. “The village gets a new library at expense of all the taxpayers in Kalkaska County.”
John Axe, a bond attorney with Axe and Ecklund, wrote the ballot language and said Backers’ concerns are unfounded. He noted the ballot mentions “construction” and simply gives commissioners permission to levy the millage.
”If you’re constructing (a library) you probably don’t have it,” he said. “... It’s kind of backwards to adopt a bond resolution if don’t have the millage.”
Library Board President Mike Moran said financial projections show the millage would cover the cost of constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building on county land behind Birch Street Elementary School.
”We intend to issue a resolution (to county commissioners) to issue bonds for no more than $3.83 million,” he said.
Library Director Bradley Chaplin said projections show property owners with $30,000 of taxable value would end up paying about 50 cents a week, or $26 per year. He said the millage is based on “very, very conservative” projections showing it also would comfortably fund operating expenses for 20 years.
Coville said the supporters group is hosting open houses and tours at the current library every Wednesday morning and evening before the special election. Voters also can expect to receive direct mailers in support of the millage.
“Some people are against any new millage for anything,” she said. “There are other people who want to see a community grow. A vibrant community has a good hospital, good school system, good recreation and a good library. Kalkaska is lacking an adequate library.”