Could it be lights off for the brand new jewel of downtown Bay City?
Say It Ain't So Joe!
Small percentage of population threatens county's best public service
August 13, 2006
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By: Stephen Kent
It's hard to understand last Tuesday's library millage vote. Why would the operating funds for such an important and valued public service be turned off by the voters?
The millage that was defeated is for operating costs and it covers over 60% of the operating budget. Without those funds it's hard to imagine how the system can continue to operate at anywhere near the current levels.
Actually, only a tiny percentage of Bay County residents killed the library. The population of Bay County is about 109,000. There are some 77,000 registered voters. Just about 19,000 turned out for the vote and about 9,200 voted against the library. That means that just over 11% of the county's population killed the library!
The numbers just don't add up.
Over 81,000 people hold Bay County Library cards.
Over 900,000 items were checked out in a 12 month period.
Nearly 50,000 patrons visited the library system in March.
With those numbers, it's hard to imagine how 11% of the population could control the election. As it turns out, just over 9,000 people voted FOR the millage. That means that if just a handful more of those 81,000 library card holders came out to vote, there would be no problem.
Everyone is speculating about what happened. The most frequently heard reasoning is that a vocal group of voters is just fed up with the recent political shenanigans that have plagued the system. What people seem to miss is that these problems are not the fault of the library rank and file staff and management. These are political problems outside of their control. If you're unhappy, go after the politicians, not the library!
All is not lost. Library watchers anticipate that the millage will be back on the ballot in November.
Library patrons: Don't let it happen again. Protect your interests and support the millage.
Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.
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