JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP—A western Michigan library faced an uncertain future Thursday after a flap over LGBTQ material on its shelves led to the failure of the renewal of a property tax millage that funds most of its budget.
The Patmos Library in Jamestown Township outside Grand Rapids will lose 84% of its $245,000 annual budget with the failure of the millage renewal in Tuesday’s primary election, said Larry Walton, the library board’s president. The millage failed with 1,905 no votes to 1,142 yes votes.
A small group of conservative residents campaigned against the renewal because the library refused to remove all LGBTQ material, Walton said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“They’re protesting all LGBTQ books that are on our shelves,” Walton said. They want it to ban books, he said, “which is unacceptable.”
“We, the board, will not ban the books,” Walton said.
Cody Newhouse, who voted against the millage, told WOOD-TV that even if books are placed in the adult section of the library, children still can access them.
“It’s only the LGBTQ stuff that bothers me, with my kids in particular,” Newhouse said. “If you’re older, make your own decision, that’s totally fine. But with the younger kids, I just believe it should be away from them.”
Walton said he’s not sure when the millage dollars will dry up. He said the board needs to look at its income and expenses and consider its future moves, including seeking a new millage in a future election.
“I am optimistic that we will work through the hurdle the conservative group has thrown our way,” he said.