Hansen restores state funding to area libraries

State Sen. Goeff Hansen announced Wednesday that he’s secured nearly $5 million to fully reimburse libraries for property tax revenue forgone in tax-exempt Renaissance Zones across Michigan.

The intent of the state’s Renaissance Zone Act, adopted in 1996, was to provide local governments with a tool to spur economic growth as well as job creation and retention. Michigan Renaissance Zones are regions of the state designated as virtually tax free for any business or resident who moves into a zone for a period of up to 15 years.

The act specifies that the state must reimburse public libraries located within a Renaissance Zone for all revenue that was foregone due to this tax exemption. Renaissance Zone reimbursement payments to libraries ceased during debate on the fiscal year 2011 state budget.

“One of my top priorities this year has been to provide the necessary funding to fulfill the state’s obligation of reimbursing our libraries that are located within Renaissance Zones,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “Our libraries are an important community resource and the state must ensure they remain operational and accessible.”

In the 34th state Senate District, seven libraries affected by the elimination of the Renaissance Zone reimbursement lost a total of more than $120,000 in local revenue that would otherwise have been collected. For fiscal year 2013, the Hart Area District Library, located within an Agriculture Processing Renaissance Zone, saw a reduction of $62,000 in revenue as a result of this lost state reimbursement, which represents 20 percent of their current operating budget.

“I will continue to advocate on behalf of this funding as the budget process moves forward,” said Hansen. “This funding should be restored because area residents depend on the essential services provided by our local libraries.”

The Senate education budget includes this funding and it is now before the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Editor’s note: See the chart below for the preliminary fiscal year 2013 amounts to be reimbursed to libraries in Renaissance Zones across the state.