Voters in the Kent District Library service area overwhelmingly approved a 15-year millage renewal in yesterday’s election.
According to preliminary results, nearly 100,000 voters submitted ballots in the special election, supporting the ballot measure 77% to 23%. Voters approved the new, lower rate of 1.1 mills, which reflects a reduction of 10.9% off KDL’s current millage rate of 1.2355 mills.
The KDL board approved Jan. 1, 2024 as the start date, even though the current millage is not set to expire until Dec. 31, 2024. This will provide taxpayers with immediate savings.
“My team and I want to thank all those who came out to show their support for KDL,” said KDL Executive Director Lance Werner. “The community already shows how much it values the library every day, with record-setting attendance at programs and total circulation of materials. We're thrilled to see validation of this in the approval by voters.
“This millage will simultaneously save taxpayers money while securing our future and allowing us to continue serving our wonderful community.”
The millage will generate $26.6 million in its first year, covering the expense of physical and digital collections, employees, programs and events, tech tutoring and other library services, rent and other expenses. The new millage will expire Dec. 31, 2039.
The award-winning library system serves residents in 27 municipalities through 20 branches, an Express Library, a bookmobile, its main service center, 5,000-plus annual in-person programs and a host of patron-focused services, from in-branch printer/Wi-Fi access and loanable mobile hot spots to early literacy initiatives and an extensive collection of talking books and Braille resources.
The lower millage will save taxpayers $3.1 million annually or $46.5 million over its life. With the new lower rate, the average homeowner in the KDL service area will pay $145.75 annually for access to library services – or $2.80 per week, less than the cost of most cups of coffee.
KDL’s collection is extensive, with more than 700,000 physical items and 15.6 million digital items. These include books, e-books, apps, magazines, movies, television programs, audio books, video courses, video games, music, online databases, research materials and at-home learning materials, as well as access to statewide materials and collections.
Known for its family-friendly programs, KDL offers more than 5,600 programs and outreach events each year, from its popular baby/toddler/preschool storytimes, learning labs and craft classes to book clubs, concerts and special activity and interest groups.
KDL employs 346 people and receives more than 4,000 hours annually from more than 500 volunteers. KDL is governed by a board of trustees who are appointed by the Kent County Board of Commissioners for four-year terms and represent various geographic regions of the county.