The Clearview Library District in my town of Windsor has recently announced that they’re seeking a Mill Levy increase in this November’s ballot. As you can imagine, this has generated a significant amount of discussion and debate within the community, reflected in sites like NextDoor. I wanted to my thoughts I recently posted on that site, in response to people who were considering voting against this measure because of dissatisfaction with how the library is run, or it’s current conflict with their own needs.
I would really encourage people to not make this mill levy a referendum on your current view of the library or its management, but rather what you want Windsor to stand for, as well as the roles libraries have in providing access to knowledge, resources and serving as a community space.
It’s easy to forget just how many resources are offered by libraries, I didn’t realize the value until I had kids of my own. With two girls under 5, it’s important for them to have space for them to interact with other kids, have stories read to them, and to be able to discover new books and learning tools. We do our best to enforce proper library etiquette, but kids at play are not always quiet. it’s become apparent that space has become an issue and that town growth has outpaced the current capacity. To those that are upset by the children: what alternative do you have aside from more space or a better design?
I hate to break it to you, but Windsor is going to continue to grow. We can either put our heads in the sand and complain, or acknowledge the growth and take a civic role in shaping our community. Citizens – namely children – are going to need places to gather. You can choose whether it’s going to be at a welcoming place that has the space to accommodate them, or be forced to choose somewhere else that invites trouble.
The Mill Levy isn’t about what’s going on right now, it’s about what’s going to happen in the next decade. You can either play checkers with your ballot, or play chess and think a few moves ahead – I’m sure you can use the library to help up your game.
Since then, a healthy debate has formed in the discussion of this topic. While people obviously disagree, it does sound like many do believe we’re in need of a new library, but question whether a Mill Levy is the appropriate fund-raising avenue. There were questions as to whether a Sales Tax increase would be a more fair taxation. I actually got clarification on the taxation issue, learning that the Library District isn’t supported by the city/town municipality and thus does not have access to sales tax revenue. It’s actually considered a state entity and like many public schools, can only receive funding through Mill Levy increases.
Fair points have been raised as to whether Mill Levy’s punish small businesses by requiring their owners to pay twice, with the commercial assessment being far greater than personal property. I do agree that there should be a debate and exploration as to whether Mill Levy’s taxation on businesses should be re-examined, but also must acknowledge that all citizens – not just business owners – carry the burden of taxation. It’s not like this is a cigarette tax or sin tax, it’s affirming that the entire community is committing to something that will better our town. We shouldn’t avoid building the house just because we only have hammers in our toolbox, but let’s see if we can refine our tools.