Chase Township Library millage defeated

VOTED DOWN: Chase Township Public Library Director Roxanne Ware stands outside of the library on Tuesday, election day. The .25-mil proposed millage to fund library operations was defeated, but Ware says she is optimistic that the library will continue to stay open with the support of the community. (Herald Review photo/Kyle Leppek)
VOTED DOWN: Chase Township Public Library Director Roxanne Ware stands outside of the library on Tuesday, election day. The .25-mil proposed millage to fund library operations was defeated, but Ware says she is optimistic that the library will continue to stay open with the support of the community. (Herald Review photo/Kyle Leppek)

CHASE TWP. — On Tuesday, Chase Township residents decided whether to levy two millages to help fund two community services. When the polls closed, it was apparent that one service would be supported financially through a millage, and the other would not.

Tuesday’s unofficial special election day results show the Chase Township fire protection millage was passed by a vote of 68 percent to 31 percent, and the Chase Township Library millage was defeated by a vote of 52 percent to 47 percent. The township’s election turnout was reported as 41 percent.

The passed .75-mil fire protection millage means the township will continue to contract services with Reed City Fire Department. Based on the township’s average taxable value, the millage equates to nearly $25 a year. The millage will be in place for a period of three years and it is estimated that it will raise $23,068 in the first year.

The defeated .25-mil library operation millage would have been used to fund the library’s operations. Based on the township’s average taxable value, the millage would equate to slightly more than $8 a year. It would have been in place for three years and it was estimated to raise $7,689 in the first year.

“I was happy to see the millage pass,” said Chase Township Supervisor Ken Shoemaker. “I’m glad the people came out and supported the millage. It was a little disappointing that the library one did not pass.”

Both services were put up to a millage due to dwindling township revenues. The township could not continue to financially support both at the levels it had in the past, so two millages were proposed. When the millages were discussed at township meetings, residents often voiced their opinions on not wanting to pay more taxes, which fire department to contract with and whether or not to fund the library.

William Ganzak, 82, voted in Tuesday’s election. He said he is an avid voter and thought this election was especially important because of what was on the ballot. He voted for the fire millage because he liked that Reed City has medical first responders and he believes the department does a good job. He also voted for the library millage because he believes its an asset to the community.

“(The Library) is important to all the people, especially those who have children,” Ganzak said. “Besides, a lot of adults go in there, and at times it’s a chance to say hello to people that you haven’t seen in a while.”

Although the library’s millage did not pass, it does not mean it is closing its doors. Enough money has been raised through donations and fundraisers to keep the library open through the fiscal year. However, the library’s future still is uncertain.

Library Director Roxanne Ware said she is OK even though the millage did not pass. She had some “touchy moments,” she admits, but overall the vote proved to her that people within the township do care about the library. Although the millage was defeated by 5 percentage points, only 19 actual votes kept it

from passing.

“(Residents) see where we are at and they know that it’s something that is really important here,” Ware said. “Of course you have a few that don’t, but that’s OK. Everybody has their own opinion. I think as long as we have people that are willing to stand behind us and help us through — sure it is going to be tough sometimes — but I am feeling optimistic about it.

Moving forward the library will likely have to rely on donations and fundraisers more to cover its operating costs, but that should be easier because the library has a board in place and a group of volunteers now, Ware said.

The library also won’t be completely on its own.

“(The township is) still going to continue to support the library,” Shoemaker said. “They will still be encouraged to do the fundraising and festivals, but we are not going to close the library.”

For some residents though, Tuesday’s millage proposals weren’t about whether they supported the services as much as it was about levying taxes.

Gerald Patterson, 69, is a Vietnam veteran and says he votes just about every chance he gets. While voting against both of the millages, Patterson was mainly focused on one thing.

It wasn’t uncommon for other residents to support the library and fire protection services but vote the millages down because they did not want to pay more taxes, Shoemaker said.

Chase Township’s fire protection contract ended with Reed City last month. Yates Township Fire Department agreed to cover Chase until the election was over. Shoemarker said he intended to resign the contract with Reed City as early as Wednesday night.

Shoemaker believes residents passed the fire protection millage because they wanted to have medical first responders and they wanted to keep their insurance rates down.

For complete results of Tuesday’s special elections, visit www.lakecounty-michigan.com.