Strong cities need strong libraries and the Detroit Public Library needs voters on Tuesday to continue its operating levy.
The library is asking voters to support a millage (Proposal L) that will support the library system for the next 10 years. It's not a tax increase. The current millage expires next year.
"The entire system would have to close down," said AJ Funchess, of the Detroit Public Library.
That's not a threat. It's a funding reality.
It's fair to ask if the Detroit Public Library has been careful with all of the taxpayer dollars coming in. Some library users didn't like the purchase of $1,000 trash cans and $1,000 pieces of furniture.
Moreover, next month a former Detroit library official will be sentenced to up to 5 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks and bribes from library contractors.
"We want to make sure that the people understand that we are stewards of the library. We are stewards of the funding that comes to the library and we want to make sure that they are comfortable with our management of the funds and operations.
A $30,000 home in Detroit provides about $120 in library funding. The millage provides about $30 million a year to the library's $32 million budget. That will keep the programs open and running.
A Detroit without a library is difficult to imagine. Tuesday will be a critical vote for the library and for the people who use it.