DeWitt to Vote on Hefty Tax to Pay for Library

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Patrick McElmurry reads a book a week, and visits the DeWitt Library every 10 days to swap out novels.

"Reading takes you places you can never go, and I've traveled a lot because of what I saw in books. And you're able to have these experiences," said Mclemurry, a library patron.

But McElmurry is just one of the DeWitt voters who will decide whether or not to cough up more cash to build a new library and maintain operating costs. And the change isn't cheap.

"I'm a taxpayer too, and nobody wants their taxes to go up. But we believe there are issues we're supporting, and we believe that the DeWitt Library is one of them," said Jennifer Balcom, the DeWitt Library's director.

On May 7th, DeWitt, DeWitt Township, and part of Watertown Township will vote on two millage proposals that together will cost a person that owns a $200,000 home a total of $5655 dollars in taxes, over 25 years. That's $254 dollars every year just for the library.

44% of DeWitt residents have a library card like this one, but some have joined other libraries because they say this one just doesn't have what they need.

This will be the library's third attempt at getting money to meet those needs. Jennifer Balcom, the library's director, says it would allow the library to finally properly serve the community.

"DeWitt is a great community. It has a lot of great assets. And the DeWitt Library is one of the exceptions to that. We are not able to offer the products and services and materials that we should offer to a community of this size," said Balcom.

But for voracious readers like McElmurry the tax increase is well worth it, and he says he will still save money.

"I do not want to pay thirty dollars for every book I want to read... or more. that's why i think it's well worth the value," said Mclemurry.

But for the more than half of population that does not use the library, the tax increase may not be worth it.

The library's director says the increase in operating funds would allow the library to provide new programs for children, more meeting space, and of course... many new books. From 2001-2010 library use increased around 33%. East Lansing just passed a millage proposal last year that came out to 100-dollars a year for the owner of a $200,000 home. And in 2010, voters approved a four-year, one and-a-half mill renewal for the "Capital Area District Library".

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