LOCAL VOTERS' ALERT: Here's The Secret No One Is Telling You About
Saugatuck and Douglas area voters are being asked to approve on August 5 a ballot initiative that, if passed, will cost local taxpayers $5.1 million to build a new library.
In official language, library board members and library supporters want you to vote “yes” to a 26-year, 0.67-mill increase for a bond to build, furnish and equip a new library at 152 Center St., in Douglas.
Additionally, they are also asking you to vote yes on a separate library ballot issue to approve a 10-year, 0.3-mill tax hike for added maintenance and utilities expenses for that new library.
In addition to all that new money, the library also would continue to collect the 0.4231 mills already approved in previous years.
In layman’s language, they are asking you to dip into your pockets for the forseeable future to the tune of an additional tax of $97 a year for each owner of a property with a $200,000 assessed value. The higher the assessed value of your home the more you’ll pay over and above that $97 figure just to fund the construction and running of that new library.
I believe voters are smart enough to decide for themselves whether Saugatuck-Douglas needs a $5 million-plus libary to serve its small lakeshore population.
I’m a supporter of libraries, but I’m a bigger supporter of fiscal responsibility and not certain people’s pie-in-the-sky, no-holds-barred, multi-million-dollar, grandiose pipe dream that carries a price tag better befitting a large metropolitan city than a small lakeshore community.
But whether a person agrees or disagrees that we need a $5 million-plus, taxpayer-paid-for, 12,500-square-foot library building in Douglas is up to each individual local voter. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
But before you arrive at the voting booth on August 5th, you need to be aware of a secret that no one - including the library officials who want your money - is telling you about.
The secret: there is a major, national, nonprofit organization that for the past several months has been working behind the scenes and quietly meeting with Saugatuck and Douglas government officials, community development leaders, deep-pocketed philanthropists and businessmen and yep, even your local library officials, to let them know they want to bring to Douglas a proposed state-of-the-art, national/international-level educational research center/museum/curriculum development center/outdoor natural area/arts-focused, music-oriented area (think Meijer Gardens) and a library that would be bigger and better than anything yet proposed locally.
This proposed multi-million dollar development project could bring national and international acclaim to the Saugatuck/Douglas area, not to mention the possible millions of dollars in tourist/research/development/school children and parent business that would give the area the year-round economic boost so long dreamed of.
The organization officials behind this incredible proposal have asked that it or their names not be identified publicly as yet for legal/business reasons, but your local officials all know who it and they are.
And during the months of preliminary meetings with your local leaders, a representative of this organization has made it clear that the potential of millions and millions of philanthropic grant dollars, state and federal economic development and arts-based grants are likely to be part of this project if it comes to fruition here.
When that representative set up and held informational meetings with local leaders this past spring and earlier this summer to assess their interest in the project being brought here, every person and group approached expressed an excited desire to hear and learn more - except one.
Want to guess which local group doesn’t want any part of this proposed deal? Your local library board.
Why you may ask? Some library board members said they wanted to move ahead with their own $5.1 million building project, despite the fact this national project proposal was brought to them even before they exercised the option to buy the land across the street from the current library.
But here’s an even more astounding set of facts.
This nationally known organization told the library officials that while they would like to make the libary part of this proposed new center of research and learning, albeit in its own space and possible building within the center complex, they were not looking to control or even be a part of the local library’s board.
Additionally, the national organization’s spokeswoman told our local library leaders they would even provide them a seat on the new proposed center’s own board of directors so they could have a say in how things were run in the center’s overall operations.
Even more incredibly, the national organization told our local library officials this project was expected to come with the strong possibility of millions of dollars in state and federal art and economic development grants - including private grants from the organization itself - that could be used to build, maintain and operate a new local library building with a likelihood that local taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay a dime to have it built and/or use.
Not interested, said several of the library board members.
Anyone want to guess why our library leaders weren’t even interested in pursuing learning more about this proposed project, even to see if it really could benefit them and the community? Perhaps over-sized, self-important egos of those who want their own private little fiefdom to run takes precedence over what is best for the taxpayers and the community.
Don’t believe what you just read? Before you vote next Tuesday, do yourself a favor and talk to your local officials and ask them about all this. Better yet, don’t vote away your hard-earned money until you know all the facts.