KDL Millage Information

Grand Rapids Press Editorial: Why you should vote ‘yes’ on Kent District Library tax proposal


On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Kent District Library residents will vote on a 1.28 mills ballot proposal to provide funding for KDL for 10 years. The 1.28 millage rate consists of a renewal of the 0.88 mills levy, which has been in place since 2000, and an additional 0.4 mills. The additional millage rate is necessary for the library to sustain service and offer much-needed technology upgrades that have been deferred due to declining revenue. Without laying off staff, KDL has cut over $1.6 million in expenses in the last three years to continue living within our means.

The KDL property tax millage provides 90% of the funding for services offered at 18 KDL branch locations and online, including all library materials, technology, staff and programs.

The proposed 1.28 mills will provide for continued access to:

The proposed rate will allow KDL to offer more convenient hours, additional materials and necessary technology upgrades.

See more information, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Do you have questions about the upcoming millage vote?

Please add your question to the “comments” section below
and we will respond as quickly as possible. Thank you.

24 Responses to “KDL Millage Information”

  1. Vicki Kouchnerkavich Says:

    Will this millage finance in anyway, the rumored withdrawal of KDL from the Lakeland Library Cooperative?

  2. Heidi Says:

    Hello Vicki,

    Thank you for asking this question. Kent District Library is not planning to withdraw from the Lakeland Library Cooperative. You are correct to identify this as a rumor.

    -Heidi Nagel, KDL Communications Manager

  3. Dan Says:

    I want to express how angry I am about the lies in this campain to ripoff the taxpayers. A constant millage generates a continually higher amount of revenue due to rising property values. It would be nice if the library personel would at least be honest about this. Please don’t try to lie you way out of this. I am also angry that the this nwhoppoing increase of nearly 50% is being put in one proposal shame on you!!! Furthermore sneaking this huge increase on the primary election in an off year election is dispicable. It would be nice if the library management were even half as interested in serving the public as in ripping off the taxpayers.

  4. C Says:

    What I want to know is if the millage is voted in, will my money go to funding the books, or funding the $100,000/yr paycheck for the director? I want my money to go toward buying more books, not overpaying higher staff. I know for a fact that a few years ago the top 20 or so people combined were payed more that year than the book budget was. Will this raise the book budget so we may get more new books?

  5. Heidi Says:

    Hello Dan,

    The dramatic decline in property tax values due to the housing market collapse which began in 2007 has resulted in consistently decreasing revenue for Kent District Library. Property values plummeted and are slow to return to their previous taxable value because of the Michigan Headlee Amendment of 1978 which limits property-assessment increases.

    Taxable property values are a bit like a roller coaster, super fast when going down, but very slow to go up. The same 0.88 mills which supported library services with $16.8 million in revenue in 2010, now provides $14.7 million in 2014.

    Because of the property tax revenue decline, KDL has dramatically cut expenses in order to continue living within our means. While KDL has never laid off staff, most of these budget cuts were in personnel costs and are attributed to reducing overall staff through attrition (including a notable reduction in management positions), migrating pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution, and having employees share 20% of their health care costs. Additionally, we’ve had to reduce our collection expenses by over $300,000 in the last year alone.

    Because funding from the previous 0.88 mills expires at the end of 2014, KDL must pass a millage levy in order to continue operations in 2015.

    Thank you for sharing your concerns with us.

    Heidi Nagel, KDL Communications Manager

  6. Heidi Says:

    C Says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 5:25 pm
    What I want to know is if the millage is voted in, will my money go to funding the books, or funding the $100,000/yr paycheck for the director? I want my money to go toward buying more books, not overpaying higher staff. I know for a fact that a few years ago the top 20 or so people combined were payed more that year than the book budget was. Will this raise the book budget so we may get more new books?

    Hello C,

    The brief answer to your question is, Yes!

    The request for 1.28 mills is based on KDL’s projected budget which includes increasing spending on library material to 20% of the library’s revenue. This significant increase is needed to maintain the vibrant collection of high demand physical materials available at KDL’s 18 branches, while also meeting the exponentially increasing demand for digital materials.

    While KDL has the largest eBook and eAudiobook of any single library in Michigan, the average wait time for one of the items is over 12 days. We went from circulating a few thousand digital items just a few years ago, to 523,449 digital items checked out in 2013. We expect that number to top 1 million in 2014.

    Thank you for your question!
    -Heidi Nagel, KDL Communications Manager

  7. Andrew Erlewein Says:

    Heidi, thanks for communicating clearly your responses.

    I plan on voting yes for the renewal of the current millage and the proposed increase in the millage.

    The value the library brings to our community far outweighs the proposed increase in the taxes I will pay.

    100% of these tax dollars are spent to benefit local communities.

  8. Heather Says:

    Hello, I enjoy our local library branch and visit weekly. I’d be willing to vote for a modest increase to maintain current levels of service, but I don’t think KDL needs to expand because I think it’s doing a great job as it is. What millage would it take to maintain current rates of book purchases and existing services, and provide for necessary technology updates, without adding new programs or extending hours?

  9. Heidi Says:

    Hello Heather,

    Thank you so much for your patronage and appreciation for KDL!
    Unfortunately, not everyone experiences the same convenient access to KDL services as you enjoy. The additional hours proposed will mostly be at those branches with disproportionally fewer hours than others serving similar populations.

    The benefits of the proposed millage will be experienced by all KDL customers primarily in regard to the collection and access to technology. Increasing the collection budget will reduce our current wait times for popular materials. Hold times currently average over 12 days for eBooks and often over 2 months for print titles. As for technology, KDL’s wireless network is completely maximized. Customers using KDL’s wifi for school or work tasks are often frustrated and occasionally get up and leave because we cannot serve their needs with our current bandwidth.

    KDL has not experienced a millage increase in 14 years. The proposed millage rate was determined by KDL administration as being necessary for the library to sustain existing services and offer much-needed technology upgrades that have been deferred due to declining revenue. At 1.28 mills, the proposed levy will cost the average family $30 more annually than they are currently paying for KDL services. To determine if this remains a value for your household, I encourage you to explore the value calculator http://www.kdl.org/about/go/library_value).

    Thank you for your question!
    -Heidi Nagel, KDL Communications Manager

  10. Carolyn Heymann Says:

    Where do I vote? Regular polling place or library?

  11. Lance Says:

    Greetings Carolyn,

    Great question and thank you for taking the time to ask it.

    You will be able to vote at your regular polling place. If you have moved or have any questions as to where your polling place might be located, please visit your local KDL branch and they will be happy to provide you guidance.

    Have a terrific week!

    Kind regards,

    Lance Werner
    Director, Kent District Library

  12. Vicki Kouchnerkavich Says:

    As a Kent County resident, I too enjoy the wonderful services provided by KDL. I truly appreciate the friendly staff and the materials, programs, and internet access provided to its residents. In my earlier inquiry I meant to ask if the millage would help fund a new Integrated Library System that is being considered by KDL? I would appreciate a reply on this topic as it could possibly effect which way I will vote for this millage.

  13. Lance Says:

    Dear Vicki:

    Thank you for your question and your ongoing patronage of Kent District Library. You are correct to say that KDL is currently in the process of researching options for a potential transition to a new Integrated Library System (ILS), which will improve services for our patrons. We are excited about the possibility of providing our customers with more seamless access to digital materials, increased catalog functionality, and more user-friendly options (among other customer service improvements we have planned). KDL is committed to providing the very best customer experience and, to this end, our transition to a new ILS will be dependent on finding a system that best serves the needs of our patrons and not the result of the millage.

    Thanks again for your question.

    Best Regards,
    Lance Werner
    Director, Kent District Library

  14. Heidi Says:

    Hello Vicki,

    Please be assured that the ability to allow for continued reciprocal borrowing with our fellow Lakeland Library Cooperative members is a priority for any new ILS system that KDL considers. Again, KDL does not plan to withdraw from LLC.

    Thank you,
    -Heidi Nagel
    Communications Manager, KDL

  15. Brian Hicks Says:

    I have received conflicting information regarding specific branches that will add operating hours if the proposed millage passes. Can you identify specifically which branches will be impacted? Thx..! Brian

  16. Heidi Says:

    Hello Brian,

    Here’s how the library will offer more convenient hours at more locations. If voters approve the August 5 ballot proposal, KDL’s plan is to add hours to Alpine, Caledonia and Spencer Township branches in September. There is ample evidence of the need for expanded hours at these locations.

    We are aware that more hours are needed at other branches as well. We want to survey communities and re-examine circulation patterns to have a better understanding of the specific needs related to open hours. After gathering community input and circulation metrics, additional hours will be offered at other branches as well. This process will not occur before 2015.

    Thank you very much for the question,

    -Heidi Nagel
    Communications Manager, KDL

  17. Eleanor Rozendal Says:

    According to the actual reading of the ballot proposal,-“To the extent required by law, a portion of the revenues from this millage (estimated to be approximately 1.1% in the first year of the levy) will be captured by or disbursed to certain local authorities for authorized purposes. The following local authorities capture or receive disbursements of a portion of the Kent Kent District Library millage to the extent required by law: The Downtown Development Authorities of the Cities of Grandville, Lowell,Rockford, Walker, and Wyoming, the Village of Kent City, the Townships of Bowne and Byron, and the Charter Townships of Cascade and Plainfield….”
    My question is: What is that money used for?
    I have not seen the actual wording of the ballot proposal being posted.

  18. Heidi Says:

    Hello Eleanor,

    Many people are confused by tax captures and KDL is required to provide this information on our ballot language, so I thank you for asking this question.

    In a nutshell:

    Through various state statutes, municipalities are allowed to identify certain areas as Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) or other types of “tax captures.” What it means is that the city or township is allowed to retain, or “capture,” portions of property taxes levied only on properties in that area in order to use those funds for economic development or environmental clean up. How the funds are used is at the discretion of each municipality overseeing the DDA.

    As we have posted KDL’s actual ballot language (available at branches and at http://www.kdl.org/millage under “What will be on the ballot?”), you are seeing those tax-captures identified.

    It is KDL’s policy to opt-out and not participate in tax-captures whenever legally possible in order to retain the funds voters approve for library purposes. Opting-out of the DDAs identified in the ballot language was not legally an option for KDL due to the way those tax-captures were established.

    Please let us know if you have further questions and thank you again for your interest in KDL’s ballot proposal.


    -Heidi Nagel
    Communications Manager, KDL

  19. Eleanor Says:

    Thank you so much for the helpful information you provided. I have a followup question. If 1.1% in the first year of the levy is “captured by or disbursed to certain local authorities for authorized purposes”, how will there be enough money available that first year-2015 for all of the Kent District Libraries to provide their desired services?

  20. Lance Werner Says:

    Greetings Eleanor,

    Thank you again for your thoughtful questions.

    The short answer is that KDL incorporates the projected losses from tax capture into its budgeting.

    It might be useful to have an illustration of the process. The following numbers are for explanation purposes only and do not reflect the millage request. For example, assume the amount of property taxes paid is $1,000,0000 and the amount captured is 1.1%. Of the $1,000,000 paid, $11,000 would be captured by various municipalities, leaving the balance of $989,000 to be used by the Library. The Library would use the net, $989,000 when developing the budget, insuring the remaining millage dollars are properly allocated to provide services to the district.

    Please let us know if you have further questions and thank you again for your interest in KDL’s ballot proposal.

    Kind regards,

    Lance Werner
    Director, Kent District Library

  21. Mark Brame Says:

    Does a portion of the millage go to fund certain downtown developement authorities in the county? If yes, why doesn’t such quasi-public entities get their own millage request instead of piggy backing on the library/

  22. Heidi Says:

    Hello Mr. Brame,

    The Kent District Library millage is subject to a number of tax captures, as identified in the ballot language, which you can read here, http://www.kdl.org/millage#Ballot.

    Michigan has a number of different statutory authorities that allow tax capture for different reasons. These include the Corridor Improvement Authority Act, 2005 PA 280; Downtown Development Authority Act, 1975 PA 197; and the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act, 1996 PA 381. These are but a few of the tax capture mechanisms that can be found in Michigan law.

    Please know that Kent District Library’s policy is to “opt out” and not participate in tax captures whenever legally possible. Those identified in our ballot language are mandatory for municipal entities, such as the library.

    Thank you for your question.

    -Heidi Nagel, KDL Communications Manager

  23. Keith Says:

    What all this means is more money out of the private sector and into the public. Money the govt can use to buy guns, bullets, bust down your doors and put their boot on your neck.

  24. Keith Says:

    “The Kent District Library millage is subject to a number of tax captures”

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