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A New Millage for a New Century

2024 Millage Information

Originally approved in 1924, the library’s millage has not increased in over 100 years. A 21st-century library can no longer thrive on a 20th-century millage. To nurture a community that is innovative by nature, RHPL needs a new millage for the next century of service.

Use of the library in our community is high, and is only expected to grow in the future.

In 1924 the library was approximately 1,700 square feet, served a population of 3,870, and circulated 14,543 items annually. Today, the library is just over 75,000 square feet and serves a population of 110,000.

Exterior wall of the library, showing RHPL Tree and Public Library sign

RHPL is asking Rochester Hills residents for a millage increase.

The library was first established in 1924 when the citizens of Avon Township voted to fund the library with 1 mill in perpetuity (that included the Village of Rochester, now the City of Rochester).  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.  There is no mechanism for raising the rate other than to appeal to the voters for a Headlee override or a millage increase.

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.

RHPL is funded mainly through property taxes.

  • 86% Property Tax
  • 6% Donations & gifts
  • 5% Oakland County contribution
  • 2% State of Michigan
  • 1% Fines & miscellaneous income
Librarian helping an elderly couple with technology
Librarian reading to children for storytime
Children with Librarian on the Early Literacy bus looking at books.
Patrons enjoying event with hula-hoops and bounce house outside the library
Several children with their parents playing in a kiddie pool outside the library.
Patrons enjoying a lecture in the library multi-purpose room.
Group of patrons around a puzzle after winning the puzzle contest at the library.
Patron is inspecting the work of the library's laser cutter, available in the makerspace.
Patrons checking out the RHPL Buzz Reads collection. Buzz Reads includes books from hot topics and rising authors.
Patron using one of the very many public computers.
Young boy sitting next to the library statue of a boy reading on a bench.

What to expect if the millage passes.

  • An increased budget for new materials ($1 million annually) and eMaterials resulting in shorter wait times for popular items.
  • Enhanced services, programming, and staffing levels, including more storytimes and a new library app
  • Year-round Sunday hours
  • Upgrades to the existing fleet of bookmobiles to serve individuals in our 70-square-mile service area and preschool students in local schools
  • More storytimes and programming sessions
  • Exploration of future projects like adding a cafe as part of library renovations
  • A modernized Multipurpose Room with improved sound, lighting, and comfortable seating
  • Investment in alternative delivery methods for getting items to patrons faster such as same-day delivery of holds or books by mail
  • Investments in critical infrastructure for an aging, 30-year-old building as well as improvements for greater ADA accessibility and environmental sustainability

What to expect if the millage fails.

  • Cuts to material and service budgets
  • Deferred or delayed critical infrastructure repairs
  • Longer wait times and limited availability for popular materials and eBooks
  • Possible reduction in staff and operating hours
  • Reduced bookmobile service, including the possibility of eliminating service to 24 local preschools

Additionally, the library will not be able to expand access to a community bookmobile for our 70-square-mile service area. 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. If the millage does not pass, the 23-year-old early literacy bus may not be replaced, which would eliminate service to 24 local preschools.

Upholstery as seen today.
The original upholstery on the same frame as seen in 1980.

The library board has saved money and avoided major impacts on services and programming by deferring updates to the library. Library furniture (seen in its original upholstery in 1970) has been reupholstered and study tables have been re-laminated.

Floor of the library entrance way showing wear and tear of many years.

The library building is over 30 years old and needs crucial repairs and updates to meet ADA compliance and modernization.

The new proposed rate for Rochester Hills residents is .39 mills for 10 years.

View the chart below to find out how much it will cost based on the taxable value of your home, which is typically half of the market value.

Costs for Rochester Hills Residents

Taxable Value of Home
Current Annual Cost
Current Monthly Cost
Proposed Additional Annual Cost
Proposed Additional Monthly Cost

Election day is Tuesday, August 6.

In Rochester Hills, early voting will be held from Saturday, July 27 through Sunday, August 4 at Rochester Hills Public Library. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except Thursday, when the hours will be 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

For information about polling locations, voter registration, and detailed ballot information, visit the elections information page on the city of Rochester Hills website.

Ballot Language:

Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property within the City of Rochester Hills, County of Oakland, Michigan, be increased by $0.39 per thousand dollars (0.39 mills) of the taxable value on all taxable property in the City of Rochester Hills for a period of ten (10) years, beginning in the year 2024 and ending in the year 2033, inclusive, as new additional millage for the purpose of providing library funds for the Rochester Hills Public Library? It is estimated that 0.39 mills would raise approximately $1,724,195 when first levied with the December 1, 2024 levy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much do Rochester Hills residents currently pay for library services?

    Property taxes are calculated based on the taxable value of a piece of property. The rate by which property is taxed is called a mill.  A millage is the amount per $1,000 of a property's taxable value.  To calculate the amount generated from a millage, a homeowner would divide the taxable value of their home by 1,000 and then multiply that sum by the millage rate of a service.

    Oakland County sends homeowners assessed and taxable values at the start of the calendar year, but these numbers can also be found online. In Rochester Hills, residents pay .73 per taxable thousand dollars. So using the formula above, a .73 mill tax rate on a home with a taxable value of $100,000 in Rochester Hills would generate $73 in taxes annually.  ((100,000/1,000) x .73 = $73)

    In the City of Rochester, the millage rate used as the basis of the contract fee is .68 and in Oakland Township, the millage rate is .57 per taxable thousand (Oakland Township has two millages for their combined rate).

  • What is the new proposed millage rate?

    After a year of assessing infrastructure needs, researching trends in modern libraries, and scrutinizing existing cost-cutting measures, the RHPL Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to propose an increase in the millage rate in Rochester Hills on the August 2024 ballot. The new millage rate is .39 mills for 10 years. If adopted, the new millage will yield appropriately $64 per capita annually when combined with the existing millage.

    The RHPL Board of Trustees made similar requests to the Oakland Township Library Board and the City of Rochester to place a ballot question before their voters in August 2024 that if approved, would result in a total yield of approximately $64 per capita annually for the citizens served in those communities.

  • Why are only Rochester Hills residents being asked for a new millage?

    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.

  • Why does RHPL need additional funds?

    The Board of Trustees identified three critical issues in need of funding:

    1. Improvements to and repair of the infrastructure of a 32-year-old building and outdated bookmobile fleet.
    2. Material and service budgets that are falling out of step with patron requests and modern community and library needs.
    3. The lack of remaining cost-cutting measures. All avenues have been explored and no further cuts can be made without sacrificing existing services and materials.

  • How does the RHPL millage compare to what people in other cities and townships pay?

    RHPL's millage ranks in the bottom five rates for libraries funded by a millage in Southeast Michigan. The only communities that pay a lower millage rate for library services are Chesterfield Township, Ray Township, Romulus, and Lincoln Park. Even if a new, additional millage is approved, RHPL's rate will still be in the middle of the range for libraries funded from a dedicated millage.

  • What has already been cut?

    The Library Board has kept a tight rein on the library’s funds, strategically cutting and avoiding major impacts to services for the public and finding other sources of revenue to make up for losses:

    • 2010 - 2019
      • Froze staff wages for 3 years
      • Cut the library's retirement contribution by 40%
      • Cut back staff health care plans (medical, prescription, and dental)
      • Cut budgets for supplies and specialized consulting
      • Reupholstered existing furniture and relaminated existing study tables
    • 2020 - present
      • Reduced staff from 135 positions to 105
      • Outsourced a 5-person custodial department to a nightly cleaning service
      • Eliminated 2.5 full-time equivalent positions with benefits (did not replace)
      • Deferred furniture upgrades by acquiring second-hand furniture disposed of from other libraries
      • Redesigned and coded website with internal team (did not outsource)
      • Developed in-house strategic plan to defray fees for research, surveys, metrics, and tracking tools
      • Managed major IT and facilities projects with internal team to eliminate consulting and installation fees
      • Eliminated or rebid service contracts (maintenance services, internet providers, suppliers, etc.)
      • Maintained garden landscapes with volunteer gardeners at no cost to taxpayers
      • Deferred replacement of the Community Bookmobile with the purchase of a small utility van to transport materials with abbreviated service
      • Eliminated a long-term care insurance benefit for staff
      • Installed LED lighting with internal team to reduce utility costs

    The library had to downsize the original, full-size community bookmobile to operate within the current budget. The early literacy bus was purchased preowned to save money and is a 2001 model - which means the bus is now 23 years old and beyond the end of life for a commercial vehicle.

  • Why did the library not save more for replacement costs?

    When a commercial building reaches age 15-20, the wear and tear of thousands of people using it daily starts to take a toll, and high-use items need to be replaced. This occurred around the year 2010 for Rochester Hills Public Library. 2010 was coincidentally when the worst recession since the Great Depression hit families and property values hard. From 2008 – 2014 housing values, and subsequently property values, plummeted. This directly affected the library as 86% of the budget is funded with property taxes. The Board cut what it could and prioritized general maintenance and upkeep of the library, and years of reinvestment were delayed or deferred. When critical updates were needed and could not be delayed, such as repairing a sinkhole in the west parking lot or reupholstering threadbare chairs, the library used accumulated savings. There simply isn’t enough revenue surplus generated from the current property tax mechanism to operate the library and pay for major infrastructure needs – namely a new roof, new heating and cooling system, parking lot renovation, and new elevator.

  • Are your finances well managed?

    Audits and financial information for the past three years are posted on the Board of Trustees page of the RHPL website. RHPL includes monthly financial statements as part of the RHPL Trustee board packet to make all transactions as transparent as possible.  Financial audits are conducted annually by varying firms and for a decade have all yielded the same result – clean financial accounting and records management.

  • Who uses the library; is it still relevant?

    Use of the library in our community is high, and is only expected to grow in the future:

    • RHPL has over 1,000 visitors every day
    • In a 2024 survey of patrons, 97% indicated they would use the library with the same or more frequency in the next five years
    • 553 new library cards are issued each month on average
    • Demand for electronic materials such as eBooks and eAudiobooks has grown substantially (20% increase in use over last year)
    • Demand for meeting and study rooms has exploded, resulting in 10,049 reservations in 2023, and 3,900 reservations in the first four months of 2024.