As a member of the Board of Trustees of Oxford Public Library, I hope I can clear up misinformation that has been circulating about the bond request. It’s important that when we cast our ballots, we understand what is actually up for a vote.
A quick timeline: A committee was brought together 10 years ago that recommended an expansion. We wanted to ensure the building was completely paid in full before coming to the community, and that occurred in 2016.
In 2020, a request for the bond was placed on the ballot. Then we found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. At this point, it was too late to remove the item from the ballot, but it felt wrong to launch an information campaign with such uncertainty in the world. It failed by 47 votes.
That was the ONLY time the bond has ever been presented to the voters. After the vote, members of the community asked us to put it up for a vote again to allow us to provide information sessions to the community. This is why you will have the opportunity to vote on it again in November.
We need this expansion. Our children simply do not have the space they need to learn and grow.
Some points of clarification:
· The community of Oxford has not authorized or increased spending in any way for the library in more than 25 years.
· The current library operating millage has been reduced each year since 1978 because of the Headlee Amendment.
· The proposed expansion DOES fit the existing land, and the library has met with both the Township Supervisor and Planner.
· It would have been easiest to work with the Schools and Parks and Rec for access and parking – but not necessary for the expansion. When they both declined, the plan was altered to fit our existing land. Everything in the proposal falls on library land.
· As with any municipal project, meeting with the Oxford Planning Commission requires submitting a detailed set of blueprints. It would not be fiscally responsible of us to move forward with that without first knowing it had public support. This is the normal process of events.
· The estimated average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds will be $0.48 per $1,000 of taxable home value (which is roughly half of your home value). Costs will differ per home, but for a $200,000 home, that will amount to approximately $50 a year.
What will you receive for $50 a year?
· A complete redesign of the youth department, allowing staff to grow the collection, provide space and seating for family activities, storytime, early literacy and special needs resources.
· Quiet study rooms for tutoring.
· A new maker space for activities like crafts, gardening groups, robotics, LEGO clubs, and more.
· A new HVAC system. This will replace our aging system and also be more energy-efficient, saving on future utility bills while also supporting green initiatives.
· Additional bathrooms, added meeting space, and a library that is equipped for 21st-century learning.
Why do we need this?
· For every new book we bring into the library, we have to remove one from our shelves, particularly in the youth area.
· Parents often have no room to sit with their children to read and play.
· In 2011 we had 5,000 children registered for programs. In 2019, there were 10,000.
· With no available private small meeting rooms, children must meet with tutors right in the center of the library.
Please visit the library website and watch the video about the project and read the plan. Don’t rely on others to do your research about the project. Then vote how you see fit for the future of Oxford.
Julie Fracker, Oxford