Library District to ask voters to increase mill levy
May 3, 2013
The Grand County Library District will be asking Grand County voters to increase the current mill levy of 2.41 by 1.5 mills in a November ballot question.
The decision to put the question to voters is due to a reduction in property tax revenue in the county during 2012 and a further reduction in those revenues anticipated for 2014, according to the library district.
The increase, which represents $12 a year on $100,000 of actual residential property value, spawns from a 17 percent reduction in property tax revenues in 2011, which the library district uses to fund five different libraries in the county. The library district has since cut hours as well as worked to centralize its library systems to cope with the loss of 2012 revenues.
In 1994, Grand County voters approved to fund the library district through property taxes. This revenue has enabled the library to operate in its current capacity since the mill levy was approved. However, the library district is anticipating a reduction in property-tax revenues by an additional 10 to 15 percent in 2014.
This increased reduction in revenue would represent a nearly 30 percent reduction in library revenues since 2010. The increased mills that will be presented to voters in November would help cope with the reduction of revenues the district has seen in the past two years, according to district officials.
If the current mill levy is not changed, and the decreased revenues hit, compounded by increased costs in delivering services, the library could see even further cuts in operating hours and reductions in library services in Grand County.
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"The board [of the library district] felt it was irresponsible to let further cuts happen without presenting the issue to voters," said Mary Anne Wilcox, director of the Grand County Library District.
Local libraries are not only places to get books to read but they also offer a multitude of other useful and necessary services, according to Wilcox. Local libraries act as hubs of the community and give people a place to meet and socialize, as well as offer services such as Internet access and copying services that are crucial to people who are looking for jobs or who work from home.
"We give people the tools to manage the downturn of the economy," Wilcox said.
Allowing local libraries to operate as they have is also crucial to the culture of learning and education in the community, she said. Individuals can continue their education by utilizing the internet services the library offers or by accessing the abundance of information the library provides.
"If voters choose to tighten their belts further by not allowing this mill increase, they will be tightening the belt on available information," Wilcox said.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334