Granby helps itself when it helps the library
March 14, 2008
While Granby ponders how to shape its downtown, it must be mindful not to neglect existing assets.
Not the least of which is the Granby Public Library ” few institutions benefit the town more.
In light of this prominence, count us among those baffled by the town’s aversion to using some of its downtown improvement funds to help the library pay down its debt.
The library’s latest request for funding from the town, in February, was its third since it launched a campaign to raise $2.4 million to be used toward helping retire the debt of about $6.2 million it incurred building the new Granby Library and the Juniper Library at Grand Lake. If the district can pay off $2.4 million of that debt at once, its existing tax base will allow it to expand programs and hire more personnel.
That, in turn, would produce dividends for the town, though the current board apparently doesn’t see it that way.
The library district is close to achieving its goal.
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It has raised more than $2 million of the $2.4 million. That includes $250,000 in challenge grants contingent upon pledges of another $250,000.
So, in February the district asked the town to pledge $50,000 per year for five years in order to secure the $250,000 in challenge grants. The district’s request, was met with a “no” from Granby, which was later changed to an offer of a relatively paltry $5,000.
If the town were hurting for cash, that would be understandable.
But the fact is, Granby has some $600,000 in its downtown improvement fund ” the vast majority unencumbered by plans for its use ” and up to another $9 million coming to the fund over the next 20 years, according to the town’s own estimates.
Moreover, this is not money from general tax revenues.
The town built the fund through money from developers when they issue bonds.
Plus, the two primary contributors to the fund, Grand Elk and Granby Ranch, both suggested to the town at the outset of the library’s capital campaign that they thought a donation to the library would be a good use for some of the money.
No such luck.
To be sure, reasonable arguments can be made on both sides of this issue.
But for our money, the town is turning its back on an opportunity to realize a handsome return on an investment.
First off, if the town pledged $250,000, it would leverage $250,000 in challenge grants. Secondly, if the library were able to expand its programs and hire more people, that would increase visits to Granby and add to the employment base, both of which could be expected to come back to the town in the form of sales tax revenue and more income for town businesses.
And, finally, if helping the Granby Library doesn’t constitute an improvement to downtown, what does? You don’t need a doctorate in economics to understand the benefits of an institution that draws thousands of visitors to town each month.
If this board won’t budge on this issue, perhaps the one that takes office after next month’s election will.
At the very least, this issue should provide grist for the campaign mill during the next couple of weeks.