Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It just sucks, all around

Lansing voters rejected on Tuesday a millage proposal for capital improvements for the Capital Area District Library (CADL) by a margin of 54.5% to 45.5%.

I'm deeply disappointed with this proposal, not just because of the "why should I pay for something I don't use" rhetoric that gets thrown around every time the library or the bus system asks for funding, but because of the way the CADL shot themselves in the foot by putting the initiative on a primary ballot.

The millage request was a large one for an ambitious project—0.96 mills for a total of $93.6 million to "replace five library buildings, expand six more and renovate the other two." It would have been a tough sell even without a painful downturn in the housing market, and a controversy over an obscurity in state property tax law that has meant that many people have seen their tax bill increase this year even as the value of their house plummets.

Common wisdom seems to be that the CADL wanted to take advantage of the low turnout on a primary ballot in order to pass a funding increase that would have had no chance on a November ballot. Given the margin by which the proposal was defeated (and the fact that the numbers were even worse in the early returns), I'm not sure that the measure ever really had a chance, but voter suspicion is going to carry over to future funding requests, and make it even more difficult for the CADL to get funds to fix buildings which have mice, mold, and failing mechanical systems.

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