A proposal from state Rep. Luke Meerman will allow libraries in some Michigan charter townships to continue offering the same beneficial services they have over the past half century.
House Bill 4119 – Meerman’s first legislation of the 2019-20 term – will allow a township board to re-establish and maintain a free public library after previous adjustments to existing law put their financial futures in question. The change will allow a few potentially impacted libraries, including ones in Allendale and Georgetown, to remain eligible for state aid and revenue from fees.
“Libraries have an incredible educational benefit for individuals of all ages,” said Meerman, of Coopersville, who testified on the plan before the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee on Wednesday. “This subtle gap in the law has been something that has been overlooked in the past. This fix can ensure that our libraries in some of our charter townships remain viable and open to the public. It’s right to bring them into the fold by expanding existing law.”
In 2006, the Charter Township Act was amended to allow the board of a charter township to establish and maintain a free public library with certain county population thresholds. Some communities chose to continue on as established under a previous law that, in part, allowed for a library that was controlled by the township board.
The state library has recently reached out to the affected libraries with recommendations, including changing to a district library. District libraries have publicly elected library boards, and townships caught in this predicament have raised concerns with transitioning control of their libraries from the township board to a new elected library board.
HB 4119 remains under consideration in the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Representative Luke Meerman (center), of Coopersville, is joined by Allendale Township supervisor Adam Elenbaas (right) and Judy Allen of the Michigan Townships Association on Wednesday for testimony on House Bill 4119 before the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.