Referenda Roundup 2021
As Election Day approaches, American Libraries and the Public Library Association are partnering to track library referenda across the country to measure public support for libraries on the ground. Listed below are results that have appeared since last year’s report.
Libraries notched many wins in 2021: In Illinois, the state’s April 6 election saw four of five ballot measures passing. To many library workers’ relief, a threatened reduction in Ohio’s support for public libraries—from 1.7% to 1.66% of the general fund—did not make it into the final version of the state’s budget. In addition, all 10 proposed local library levies in the state’s May 4 election passed with 70% or more of voters in favor. And in Stayton, Oregon, residents approved a levy that would prevent the public library from cutting services—after narrowly rejecting an operations levy in the May 2020 election.
Check back after the November 2 elections for an updated list of referenda. Results will be posted on our website and published in our January/February 2022 issue.
In October Juneau voted 6,580–1,786 in favor of renewing the city’s 3% temporary sales tax for five years. A portion of the approved tax goes toward supporting libraries.
The New Canaan Town Council voted in August to approve a grant of $10 million and a line of credit to New Canaan Library for a new building budgeted at $38 million. A campaign to reverse the decision by referendum did not garner enough signatures by the October deadline to prompt a vote.
Residents of McCall voted in May to approve a $4.2 million bond to fund an addition to its public library and renovations to the existing building, including updates intended to improve accessibility.
Rolling Meadows City Council approved a 1.8% increase in the city’s library levy in October.
The following are results from the state’s April 6 election.
In Cook County, residents of Prospect Heights Public Library District approved the annexation of new territory into the district by a vote of 787–198. The annexation is expected to generate an extra $24,000 annually in property taxes for the library.
Voters in Hancock County decided 358–333 to approve the issuance of $1.2 million in bonds by Carthage Public Library District for building and furnishing a new library facility. The funds were matched by a Public Library Construction Grant from the state.
Mercer and Rock Island counties rejected a proposed increase in the public library tax rate for Sherrard Public Library District from 0.15% to 0.19% by a vote of 278–185.
Residents of Monee voted 487–410 in favor of a nonbinding resolution instructing officials to continue efforts to create a library facility within village boundaries.
By a vote of 1,655, St. Clair County residents approved the annexation of the unserved territory of Cahokia Heights into Cahokia Public Library District.
The Welsh Board of Aldermen in October voted 5–0 to declare a stretch of property as surplus, which will allow the land to be donated to Jefferson Davis Parish Library. The library plans to use the property to expand its McBurney Memorial branch facility or potentially construct a new building in the next 5–10 years.
In May, Upton voted 806–727 to issue bonds for the creation of a new community center that will include a library and senior center. The vote creates an exemption from an existing proposition that places limits on raising property taxes.
Residents of Cheboygan County voted 348–215 in May to increase the millage rate for Indian River Area Library by 0.4 mills for 10 years—the first increase the library has requested in 44 years.
The following are results from the state’s August 3 election.
Chesterfield rejected a levy increase of 1 mill for 20 years that would have funded the construction of a new public library in a 5,482–2,090 vote.
Dearborn voted 13,331–6,447 to renew a 1-mill tax to help fund its three-branch public library system for the next six years.
By a count of 958–242, voters in the townships of Empire, Glen Arbor, and Kasson renewed a levy of 0.27 mills for Glen Lake Community Library and approved an additional 0.03 mills for five years.
Residents of Nelson Township voted 481–319 against a four-year millage increase of 0.62 mills supporting Kent District Library’s Nelson Township branch.
In support of the Saugatuck–Douglas District Library, Saugatuck, Douglas, and Saugatuck Township voted 809–321 to renew a 0.19-mill operating millage that had expired in December 2020 and authorize an additional 0.06-mill tax for the next five years.
In Westland residents voted 5,418–4,972 to approve an 0.85 millage rate for 10 years to support Westland Public Library—a reduction from the expiring millage rate of 0.98.
Belgrade voted 1,137–946 to approve $14 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new library and community center. The Belgrade Library Foundation has already raised $2.2 million of the estimated $16 million budgeted for the project.
In September voters approved by a count of 169–27 Kingston Library’s $1.2 million budget for 2022, a 10.7% increase from 2021. The budget includes a 6.5% increase in the property tax levy.
Residents of Lawrence in May passed a $3.1 million budget for Peninsula Public Library by a tally of 1,153–256, which puts the budget at the same level as the previous year.
In May Ogdensburg voters approved an extra $225,000 for Ogdensburg Public Library, for a total allocation of $350,000 for the year. The measure, which will help make up funds that have been slashed since 2017, passed 792–405.
In a 422–395 vote in September, Pearl River rejected a $20 million bond for a new public library.
By a 350–191 vote in October, Stillwater approved a $4.4 million project that will triple the size of the village library through the purchase of nearby property. The current library is located in a 147-year-old former Episcopal church.
The following are results from the state’s May 4 election.
Voters approved a five-year renewal levy of 1 mill for Dover Public Library, 962–116.
Hudson Library and Historical Society won a five-year renewal levy of 2.9 mill by a vote of 2,087–677.
Voters in Jefferson Township and Jefferson renewed a 1.5-mill levy for Henderson Memorial Public Library by a vote of 199–27. The levy has helped the library replace its HVAC system and upgrade technology, according to officials.
Lorain County residents approved four 5-year renewal levies: 2.95 mills for the Domonkas branch of Lorain Public Library in Sheffield Lake (passed 327–75); 3.25 mills for Oberlin Public Library (passed 734–106); 2.8 mills for Avon Lake Public Library (passed 1,337–255); and 5.95 mills for Lorain Public Library (passed 1,439–363).
Piqua voted 595–252 to renew Piqua Public Library’s 1.3-mill tax and increase it to 1.8 mills for five years.
In a 15,120–4,821 vote, Summit County residents approved a six-year, 1.9-mill renewal levy for Akron–Summit County Public Library.
The following are results from the state’s May 18 election.
With nearly 79% in favor, Multnomah County passed a five-year renewal levy of .05 mills to support the library, museum, and educational programs of Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
Stayton approved a five-year levy of 0.4 mills for Stayton Public Library by a vote of 1,286–543, replacing a tax set to expire this year. Had the levy not passed, the library would have faced significant cuts to operations, services, and programs.
The following are results from the state’s May 1 election.
In Anna, residents voted 844–465 to approve $22 million in bonds for the design and construction of a combined library and community center including multipurpose recreation, meeting, and classroom space.
Irving residents voted 3,910–2,397 in support of Proposition J, which authorizes the issuance of $20.2 million in bonds for constructing, improving, and expanding library facilities.
In a 245–106 vote, Plano residents approved $2.5 million in bonds in support of the city’s library facilities.
Saginaw approved $18.7 million in bonds for the construction and equipping of a new public library by a vote of 674–560.
With a 274–167 vote in favor of a 0.3-mill levy, supporters of Castle Rock Public Library narrowly met the 60% supermajority required to approve the library’s first stable funding source since its last levy expired in 2019. The measure did not pass, however, because the total number of votes cast was below the validation threshold set for the election. The issue will be back on the ballot November 2 with a reduced proposed levy of 0.2 mills.
In April voters decided 553–234 to issue up to $17.6 million in bonds to construct a new library and other facilities in the Kohler School District.
Doddridge County in January voted 380–168 for to fund the Doddridge County Public Library among several other county organizations. The levy, which has existed since 1987, provides 97% of the library’s budget.
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