IONIA, Mich. — A library can be the community center in a city or town, and now the taxpayers of Ionia have the opportunity to bring new life to an old library dating back to 1903.
"What was feasible and perhaps correct in 1903, is certainly not correct 120 years later, and the home is very limiting in that there's a bunch of 12 by 12 rooms," Ionia Community Library Director Dale Parus said.
Parus says that when the Mercantile Bank of Michigan donated their downtown Ionia branch back in January, it made all the difference to finally getting a millage proposal closer to approval.
A proposal failed in the November 2018 election before the building was donated and before the library was able to figure out a way to lower the cost for taxpayers. Back in 2018 the library asked to levy 1.3 mills to construct a brand new building. Now the price has come down.
"We were able to get that millage asked down to 0.98 mill and that's very important to the average household in Ionia. So roughly, if you had a taxable value of a $50,000, home, the asked would be $49," Parus said.
A "yes" vote would mean for the next 25 years, taxpayers would financially support the renovation and maintenance of the new donated location. It's a location that would feature conference rooms, community programs and study rooms. It would also be a location right in the heart of downtown that doesn't need to be built from scratch.
"I think this building is a game changer," Parus said.
Parus says that the library also has pre-approval for a low cost loan through the USDA Rural Development Authority that he says is going to be crucial in helping keep that millage down.
Election day is November 2.