Grand County Library District fights to keep branches alive
February 15, 2017
Mary Chance, president of the Grand County Library District, gave an update during the Grand County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Feb. 14. Chance noted that the district has made progress as an organization throughout 2016 and into 2017.
She also noted the passing of a recent mill levy increase. In 2016, the Hot Sulphur Springs library was in danger of closing, but with the passing of Ballot Measure 1B in the 2016 election, a mill levy increase on property tax was imposed. The mill levy increased Grand County property tax mills from 2.41 mills to 3.36 mills (a .95 increase). The mill levy has allowed the district to maintain library services at all five open branches. Chance then noted that the district would have a balanced budget by 2019.
The commissioners discussed appointing new trustee members to the library board and noted that, in the future, delays in appointment may be expected. The discussion followed a week-long delay of trustee appointments from 2016.
Chance noted that if the commissioners delay an appointment of a trustee member it could be an inconvenience to the district.
As part of the approval of their Feb. 7 consent agenda, commissioners moved to reappoint Nancy Knoohuizen and Ann Douden as representatives to the library district board. Douden is the vice president for the library district and holds the District 2 seat. Knoohuizen holds the At Large D seat.
The commissioners appointed three other members to the board in 2016: Marcus Davis, a Hot Sulphur Springs resident who filled the At Large B seat; Carol Hunter, a Grand Lake resident for the At Large A seat; and Jim Sloan from Kremmling for District 3.
Stephanie Ralph, executive director of the library district, noted that the library's administration building in Granby has been placed on the market for sale. The building has been shown, but no one is currently interested in purchasing it, Ralph said. The administration building was placed on the housing market for the district to save money in their current and future budgets.
Ralph also stated the district has eliminated 10 public computers because of increased use of personal Wi-Fi devices.
According to a past press release from the district, the increased property tax revenues from the mill levy will be held in a debt retirement reserve for a balloon payment in 2019. After that, and until 2026, the increased property tax revenues will be used for the annual payments and early retirement of the debt. This will ultimately save the library district $1.2 million.
The press release states that in 2016, the district saved $73,000 in operating expenses through cuts in the personnel, technology and media budgets. Given the uncertainties surrounding the property tax returns from the Henderson Mill, the board of trustees felt it was important to move ahead with a conservative budget in 2017.
Ralph said the district has no intent of closing any library branches in the immediate future.