Clare County Review & Marion Press News

Winterfield Township votes to move forward to become Marion District Library member

By Genine Hopkins

Winterfield Township has moved one step closer to potentially placing a millage to support the Marion Area District Library as a member by approving contact with their township attorney to discuss the wording for a millage that would be viable. The board of trustees is seeking to place the issue on the November General Election ballot.
The saga of the Clare County (and a couple of Osceola County) townships whose residents were once able to use full membership privileges at the Marion Village Library for less than the cost of $1,000 per year per township remains a very hot topic in those townships. Winterfield Township, with a small surge in new residents, is finding those new residents are somewhat upset about not having privileges in the Marion Area District Library. Township Supervisor Dave Bondie read a portion of a letter he received from resident Deborah McDaniels, whose ability to check out materials was stymied. She was upset, and Bondie took it upon himself to personally contact her to let her know how this all came about and what her current options were. McDaniel’s children attend Marion Public Schools, whose students retain the ability to check out materials as district students.
Winterfield Clerk Bonnie Breckenridge also noted that she believed enough residents were upset that the township should put the millage in support of becoming at least a supporting member (without having a seat on the library board, or .3 mils millage). To have a seat on the library board would require another .5 mils in a millage. On a motion by Bondie, supported by Breckenridge, the motion to begin the process passed.
The whole debacle began when the endowments that had been supporting the Marion Village Library ran dry, after decades of shoring up any shortfall needed to receive aid from the State of Michigan. These endowments allowed surrounding townships to pay a small amount to have full membership at the library, but like most good things, this came to an end.
Marion Area District Library Director Sarah Genereaux-Maddox explained that it was a hard decision to realize that many member townships would have to now be asked to share the burden, “It was nice to have those endowments that supported us in their wills, but once we cashed in the last couple of CDs in support to offset the shortfall of the .3 mils required by state law to allow state funds to help support us, we knew we would need to reach out to our area townships.”
Genereaux-Maddox is a great believer in the power of libraries in local communities and a great advocate for keeping the library operational. In forming the “District” for the library, at this time, only Marion Township and the Village of Marion – where the library is located – have millages up before the voters to form the “District” as required by law. The Village of Marion has always supported their library, so Genereaux-Maddox believes the passage of the District there will be an easy win. In conversations with residents and elected officials in Marion Township, she also believes that will pass as well.
“The creation of the district involves both a supporting millage and the designation as a member and is the same for both the Village and the Township; it is a simple yes or no vote. Seeing what other surrounding township residents have been experiencing is helping stoke support in both Marion Village and Marion Township.”
At the heart of concerns expressed by Winterfield Township Supervisor Bondie was what would happen to the money from a millage – if passed by Winterfield Township residents – should the District millage vote in the Village and Township of Marion fail to pass. Genereaux-Maddox was not 100% sure, but believed the millage would be voided and any money collected would be returned to the township or rebated. As of the press date, the Review had not received an official response from the State of Michigan Library Data and State Aid Department.
Genereaux-Maddox did say that the residents of Winterfield Township would know the outcome prior to the millage vote in November; the District vote in Marion Village and Township will be in the August election ballot. But even if the Township of Marion residents largely voted it down, all would not be lost.
“Should the District creation and millage not pass, I know we could receive enough support in the Village of Marion to get funding quickly approved. If Marion Township was out, but Winterfield Township and/or Redding Township millages passed, then the District would be between the Village, Winterfield and/or Redding Townships,” she said.
As Winterfield takes the next steps, and with Redding Township’s meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 16, where that township may also begin the steps to include millage support for the District Library, residents may yet look forward to enjoying the full benefits of the Marion Area District Library.

Leave a Reply