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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Library Historical Time Line. Part 1. The Millage of 1996 and The 2003 Break up.

In 1996, in the City of Bloomfield Hills  voters rejected a .4 millage  to fund library services from the  Bloomfield Township  Public Library. The millage issue featured a 70%  voter turn out. High for the City. 1500 voted "NO" and 735 voted  "Yes".  A compromise service contract of roughly $200,000  a year for three years was later approved by the City Commission.  Presumably it was renewed in 1999 or 2000 for a three year agreement with the annual  amount due of $226,460.

The City had a working agreement with the Township Library which went back to the Library's origins in 1964. During much of this period the Baldwin Library and the Bloomfield Hills Township Library (BPTL) had one director working with the two library boards. In 1999 the BPTL and Baldwin appointed separate directors.  In  2003 when the City's contract expired the BPTL raised annual fee from $226,460 to $463,580, an increase of 2.5  times  in order to "make usage fees more equitable."

City  residents and  the City commission  claimed a price Pearl Harbor. How would you react if  your lawn service said the  $35 cut would now be  $87.50.  Would you gladly pay it or call around for another service ?

The BPTL offered no explanation for the price increase and as rule does not dispense information in regards to their decision making process.

 What follows is conjecture on the author's part based 
on two incidents that happened seven years apart.

 In 2010 after the millage failed the City contacted the BPTL to see if a dialogue was still possible.The the library  said it was but the .6 millage used in the election that would no longer be acceptable. The new negotiating amount  would have to be 1.2 mills. It seems the library board had been listening to the Township's United Home Owner's Association and it was time the City paid it's fair share. No more  Mr. or Ms. Nice Library.

Why was the City's fair share always double the initially accepted price ?
 Because different formulas were used to compute the price.

Based on 1999 numbers (provided by Southeast  Michigan Council of Government) the surveyed year closest to the 2003 break up, there were  15,174 home owners in the township  and 1385 in the City of Bloomfield Hill.  The median value for  a home was $356, 000 for the Township and $854,000 for the City of Bloomfield Hills. Median means half higher and half lower

By dividing the number of households into the requested annual dollar City residents who paid $163
 in 2002 were requested to pay $335 per household in 2003. In the Township however the average householder paid $335. If the City resident paid $335 the City's annual commitment of $463,588 and the Township's commitment of slightly more than  five million dollars would more or less balance the ten to one advantage the Township had in population. Fair and equal in terms of the mind of the BPTL. Everybody pays the "same." Acceptable to homeowners in Bloomfield Township  who by using the above formula  might have thought the City was getting to use their library for half the cost.

There was just one problem The median household value in the City was $854,000. The Median  household value in the Township was $356,000. The assessment  per household in the city could by half as much because the homes  were more than twice the value. The  BPTL didn't like that math which meant less revenue for them. Neither did the Township resident in the $350,000 house who did not think in terms of million dollar plus homes but in terms of a friend who lived in one of the city's few $350,000  homes and paid less than  he did for "his" Library. In the minds of both the township library and homeowners  it was perfectly logical and justifiable to sock the city and soak the rich.

Could a compromise  have been worked out ? Among reasonable people most certainly.  That's what happened in 1996 when a millage failed. tempers flared and a lawsuit was brought. 2003 was not 1996 however and the Township Library had a relatively new director . There was no compromise, or even any discussion.

The explanation offered by this writer is again pure conjecture  based on the fact that the  BTPL on two occasions  arrived at numbers twice that of what the city thought was fair. The actual increase asked for 2003 was closer to 2.5 rather than the 2x  used in the theoretical model. The difference is the model stops only at "home owners" and the actual number includes "other dwellers".

 October 14th 2003, the City's day of decision. 

On the following page you will see  various documents  concerning that day.  Of the five 2003 City Commissioners, many are familiar  names if not familiar  faces. 2003 Mayor Pro Tem Michael Zambricki is now our current Mayor and has not disclosed  his position on the 2011 millage proposal.  2003 Commissioner Dale Dawkins  is a former mayor  and is listed as a supporter of the current millage proposal. 2003 Commissioner Pat Hardy is also a former Mayor, current commissioner, and library millage supporter. Former Mayor and 2003 Commissioner John Davey is listed as being opposed to the current millage. 2003 Mayor Benjamin Hoffiz as mentioned in our post of August 6th 2011 is deceased.

Many of the residents who spoke at the public hearing , are alive, and well and the same address.  In our next post to borrow from a famous TV Show, "It is October 14th 2003. All is as it was then, except you are there."

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