Library district may seek tax increase |

Library district may seek tax increase

Tonya Bina

The Grand County Library District is planning to ask voters in November to raise the district’s mill levy.

Voters approved the district’s 2.41 mill levy in 1994, which equates to about $25 in property taxes per year per $250,000 of property valuation.

Two new libraries were built in 2006 – one in Grand Lake and another in response to the Marvin Heemeyer bulldozer attack in Granby – creating a $400,000 annual debt to the district over 30 years

In anticipation of decreased property-tax revenues in 2012, the district streamlined operations and made “modest reductions” in library hours and staff, according to the library’s Executive Director Mary Anne Hanson-Wilcox.

The district library board also established a $600,000 “Economic Stabilization Fund” to carry the district through the recession until 2015. But predictions of further losses in property-tax revenues has prompted the district board to “seek voter’s approval of a November 2013 ballot issue for an increased mill levy,” according to the district’s presentation to the Grand County Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 19.

The district must seek approval from commissioners before going to the voters of Grand County. Commissioners gave a preliminary nod to move forward, but nothing is official until the district formally presents its proposed increase, which is still being decided in the coming weeks, according to Hanson-Wilcox.

The district’s assessed valuation decreased 17 percent in 2011, which resulted in a $400,000 shortfall in revenues to the district, according to the district’s information presented to commissioners.

As much as 95 percent of district revenues rely on property taxes generated by the voter-approved mill levy.

The district had an employee wage freeze, but for 2013 increased wages by 2.5 percent for the first time in three years.

Meanwhile, the district is challenged with the changing landscape of technology, seeking to “provide access to the most up-to-date computer hardware and applications,” according to the district’s information.

The district cannot afford further reductions in property-tax revenues without possible cuts in operating hours and/or library services, Hanson-Wilcox said.

The public is “really who we work for,” she said, “and we need to provide information about what is happening and allow them to answer the question: ‘Do you value library services enough to pay an increase library district tax bill, or are you willing to see those services diminish?’

“It would be irresponsible of us to not ask the question,” she said.

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