Library Advocates Object to Misrepresentation in Meadows’ Campaign Literature

You are on, ELi's old domain, which is now an archive of news (as of early April, 2020). If you are looking for the latest news, go to and update your bookmarks accordingly!


Friday, September 27, 2019, 6:51 am
Alice Dreger

In terms of the number of words, it’s a small bit in Mark Meadows’ campaign literature. But advocates for the East Lansing Public Library say the one line could be a big deal for that institution.

Like several of the six candidates for City Council, Meadows has been knocking on doors to convince East Lansing voters to cast a ballot for him on November 5. One piece of literature he is handing out includes this line:

“Property taxes that operate City services (government, solid waste and the Library) have been reduced by 25%.”

But the library is not currently supported by the City property taxes that have been reduced by 25%.

And that, advocates of the library say, could lead people to misunderstand something critical: a millage that helps keep the East Lansing Public Library alive expires soon, and it will need voter support or the library could be in big trouble.

Why the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library contacted ELi:

ELi was contacted about this issue by Sheila Taylor, Vice President of the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library (FOELPL).

Taylor wrote, “We have become aware of misinformation about library funding in Mayor Meadow's campaign literature.” She noted that, contrary to Meadows’ literature, the library is funded primarily by two dedicated millages, one of which requires voter approval.

The 2012 special library millage was used as a way to raise more property taxes in East Lansing by asking for support for a popular – even beloved – institution.

That millage will expire soon. Taylor explained in her communication, “FOELPL is being depended upon to campaign for millage renewal in 2022, and we are concerned this misinformation could dissuade people's approval.”

She explained further, “With the 2012 [millage] vote, we were aware people thought they were voting to supplement library funding, not supplant it, as was the case. This misunderstanding persists, as reported in a study the library subsequently commissioned, and demonstrated by more recent debate about how the City could cut costs to avoid an income tax.”

She asked ELi to look into Meadows’ misrepresentation.

What the City's Finance Director says:

I contacted Jill Feldpausch, East Lansing’s Finance Director, to get confirmation that the library is not receiving money from the property taxes that were reduced by 25 percent following passage of the income tax.

I asked, "Do general property taxes in CoEL fund the library, or is the funding of the library coming entirely from the dedicated library millages at this point?"

Feldpausch responded, “At this point (with the dedicated millage in place), general operating taxes are not used for the Library.” (The parenthetical was in her response.)

What Mark Meadows says:

Asked to answer FOELPL’s complaint about his literature, Meadows doubled-down, writing:

“The East Lansing library is created by the city charter (Chapter 17). It is administered by a library board appointed by the City Council. It is funded by a specific tax voted on by East Lansing Citizens collected by the City and transmitted to the Board to be used only for Library operations. Its budget is approved by the City Council as part of the City budget. The City provides personnel services to the Library which it pays for like other departments of the City. Non residents pay a fee to use the library services.”

He also quoted ELi reporting previously that the “East Lansing Public Library is a Municipal Library, meaning it is a department of East Lansing City Government."

Meadows continued, “It is a ‘City’ service. As is solid waste service and the cost of all other government operations. The lit is entirely accurate.”

As a reminder, Meadows’ literature says, “Property taxes that operate City services (government, solid waste and the Library) have been reduced by 25%.”

That is not “entirely accurate.”

The response from FOELPL:

I did not tell Meadows that the FOELPL complaint came specifically from Sheila Taylor. But in his response, Meadows wrote, “You should just share my answer with Sheila. I think she may just misunderstand the relationship between the City and the Library.”

I did share his answer. Taylor then responded:

“The matter is simple enough. That property tax ‘which has been reduced by 25%’ is NOT money which goes to the library. A separate tax, if you will (the millages), supports the library. The City Council has no choice over how to use the millages; that money must go to the library. The City Council does have discretion over use of the property tax recently reduced by 25%, and it allocates none of it to the library.”

She added, “So, why make a big deal out of all this? That is also simple: I fear if the public perceives their property tax money (the tax recently reduced by 25%) is supporting the library, they may decide not to pay an additional tax (millage) to further support the library.”


ELi now has a Voter Guide available for the November Council election, and we also have a survey up asking what issues will matter to you in this election. Take the short survey by clicking here.

Disclosure: Sheila Taylor has voluntarily reported for ELi on library issues. She is also a financial supporter of ELi, as are a number of other FOELPL members. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info