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Ross commissioners nix proposal on Northland library

| Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ross commissioners on Monday killed a proposal that would have let residents decide whether to approve a new tax to benefit the Northland Public Library.

Commissioners voted 6-2 to end discussion on a referendum to levy a 0.22-mill tax that would have generated about $415,000 for the library. Commissioners Dan DeMarco and Chris Eyster were in the minority. Commissioner Grace Stanko was absent from the meeting.

"This is not about staying in or opting out of the library," Commissioner Gerald O'Brien told about a dozen library supporters in the audience, including Sandra Collins, the library's executive director. "We know what a great job they do," said O'Brien, who introduced the proposal to kill the referendum.

Ross will continue to pay its share of public money toward the library. The township has budgeted $404,000 for 2012. Bradford Woods, Franklin Park, Marshall and McCandless contribute an annual stipend to the library based on a formula that includes population, circulation and property assessment figures. The contributions make up more than half of the library's $2.4 million budget this year.

The referendum, proposed by Eyster late last year, would have allowed the township to use the money it gives the library for other purposes, like road paving or public safety.

Some residents said the referendum — the actual wording of which never became available — was confusing. Others said it was a way for commissioners to raise taxes without calling it a "property tax increase."

"Why fix something that isn't broken?" said Bill Grady, a former commissioner. "If you need to raise taxes, raise taxes."

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