GCLD seeks increased mill levy
August 18, 2016
The Grand County Library District (GCLD) will seek approval of an increased mill levy in the November election. The Juniper Library in Grand Lake was crowded on Tuesday, August 16 at the GCLD board meeting. A main topic of discussion was the debt the GCLD faces, and how they plan to balance their budget. On many citizens' minds was the possibility of closing the Hot Sulphur Springs Library, and the mill levy is the GCLD's attempt to save money a different way. If approved, the mill levy would increase from 2.41 mills to 3.36 mill, a .95 increase. According to the GCLD, this results in a property tax increase of $8 a year on a $100,000 home.
In a slideshow presentation titled "Save the Grand County Libraries" Board Trustee Mary Chance discussed the challenges the library district is facing, and the possible solutions to balancing their budget deficit. Included in the presentation were some suggestions from the public that have been heard over the past few months. Public suggestions included: closing a branch, cut branches to the bare minimum by making them into a kiosk, getting rid of the central services building in Granby, layoffs and firing the director and branch managers to hire new ones at lower salaries.
Chance walked through each of these possibilities, and noted public feedback and previous attempts the GCLD has already made. According to the slideshow, closing a branch and cutting branches for kiosks were very unpopular ideas to many. Chance noted that the GCLD heard the public on these issues and is trying to find another way to cut costs if possible. She then discussed how the Central Services building is on the market already, and that staffing has been cut drastically since 2011. She also said that the GCLD already has the lowest paid managerial staff out of the surrounding library districts and they pay below industry averages, so firing the branch managers to hire new ones at lower salaries is not feasible.
How did the GCLD come up with the mill levy number?
According to the GCLD, The mill levy increase will raise enough money to pay GCLD's $4.5 million debt ten years early, and by paying off the debt in ten years, they will save Grand County tax payers $1.2 million in interest payments—money they will not have to pay out in the end. By using money from the mill levy to pay their yearly debt payments they will be freeing up cash to run the district. According to the GCLD, getting rid of the debt as quickly as possible is the fiscally responsible thing to do to help them move towards a balanced budget. The mill levy sunsets in ten years when the debt is paid, so this way the GCLD will not be asking for more from tax payers than absolutely needed.
The library district pointed out that this does not ultimately mean that they will never have to cut services again, but by increasing the mill to pay off the debt early the GCLD can focus on their future and the library users when property values recover and the Henderson Mill picks back up again. According to the slide show the GCLD has crunched the numbers, and by taking care of the debt payment, tightening the budget, and cutting central services they can maintain their branches for the immediate future.
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How can you help?
The slide show suggested ways the public can help including: by talking to your neighbors—the mill levy is a workable solution to help preserve the district; volunteer—contact the campaign to find out how you can help; Vote—be registered to vote in Grand County and vote for the mill levy.
If the mill levy does not pass, the GCLD will have to take action including reduced hours for all branches, staff cuts across the board, branches will be open fewer days, programs will be eliminated at all branches and the closure of branches.
According to the GCLD, in order to generate additional funds to recoup the cost of copy machine leases and long-distance phone lines necessary for faxing, the library district is increasing the charge for such services as printing, copying, faxing and scanning. Additionally, in order to provide audio-visual equipment and services that patrons have come to expect in community meeting rooms, a reservation fee will be assessed at time of submitting the reservation. This fee will be $20 for a four-hour reservation for the large meeting rooms in Fraser Valley Library, the Granby Library, and the Kremmling Library. If patrons wish to reserve a dedicated time in a study room in the library branches, the fee will be $10 for a two-hour time slot. However, if patrons wish to drop in and use the study room with no guaranteed reservation, that incurs no fee. The new fee structure will start October 1.
A library survey has been distributed to library cardholders asking for input regarding library usage and their likelihood of supporting an increased mill levy. Paper copies of the survey are available in each library branch and the survey is also posted on the library website.