Rochester Hills voters to consider a new library millage on Election Day

Rochester Hills Public Library began in 1924 as a 1,700-square-foot building for a population of 3,870 and has evolved into a nearly 75,000-square-foot building that welcomes over 1,100 visitors daily and issues a net gain of 553 new library cards each month on average. The library circulates 1.5 million items annually and has seen demand for electronic materials such as eBooks and eAudiobooks substantially (a 20% increase in use over last year). Meeting and study room use has exploded, resulting in 10,049 reservations in 2023, and 3,900 reservations in the first four months of 2024.

At its April 9 meeting, the Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL) Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution authorizing and directing the Rochester Hills City Clerk to place a question on the August 6, 2024 ballot asking Rochester Hills residents for a new millage.

The new millage asks for an additional levy of .39 mills for library funding for 10 years. The current millage, established in perpetuity in 1924, is 1 mill. The millage rate for funding library operations has not increased in over 100 years but has been rolled back as a result of the Headlee Amendment. For the City of Rochester Hills, the rate is currently only .7353 mills.

“As RHPL looks forward to its next century of service, it is apparent to the Board of Trustees that delivering a 21st-century library experience with a 20th-century millage is no longer sustainable.”
said RHPL Director Juliane Morian. “RHPL patrons deserve shorter wait times for eBooks and other popular materials, enhanced programming and services, and an updated, modern building with greater ADA accessibility and fully-functioning bookmobile service.”

RHPL serves 110,000 people throughout three communities, Rochester Hills, the City of Rochester, and Oakland Township. The City of Rochester and Oakland Township contract with the library for service and have annual contracts based on the millage rate for Rochester Hills residents. If voters in Rochester Hills approve a new millage, a proportionate request will be made to these communities.

“Recognizing the uniqueness of how RHPL operates, the Board of Trustees works collaboratively to build consensus among all stakeholders, especially from the contract communities, and has devised a formula to propose equitable library funding based on a per capita fee.” Said RHPL Board President Melinda Deel.

If approved, the millage will generate an additional $1,724,195 in funding. The additional investment of property tax revenue and the updated contracts will allow the materials budget to expand to over $1M annually with priority given to popular materials and eBooks. Sunday hours will be added year-round, program offerings will increase, building renovations will begin (with a possible new café), the building will obtain greater ADA accessibility, the roof will be replaced, the heating and cooling systems will be modernized, and new bookmobiles will be put into service for the 70-square-mile service area.

If the millage does not pass, funds normally used to expand and develop material and service budgets will need to be rerouted to fund critical infrastructure repairs in the next ten years, namely a new roof and updated HVAC systems. Budgets for new items, eMaterials (eBooks and eAudiobooks), and special services will be cut, limiting availability and increasing wait times. Staff and operating hours may be reduced. Expanding access to a community bookmobile will not be possible; the current van will remain in service, but the library will not be able to return to a full-service bookmobile that allows for patron browsing and a larger collection. Additionally, the 23-year-old early literacy bus may not be replaced, eliminating service to 24 local preschools.

Cost reductions and cuts have been enacted at RHPL since 2010 and include freezing staff wages for three years and reducing or eliminating staff positions, benefits, and health care plans. The library has cut back budgets for supplies and specialized consulting, deferred critical updates to infrastructure and furnishings, managed major projects and updates with internal teams, and downsized the community bookmobile to a utility van with abbreviated services when the used vehicle became too costly to repair.

For additional information on the proposed millage, visit

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