Q & A With the Grand County Library District
Will the HSS library close?
Kim Jenson and Stephanie Ralph: The Board of Trustees has been engaged in asking the hard questions and examining library statistics and usage from every angle to arrive at a sustainable structure for the Library District. At this point, the discussion is still in process and many options are under consideration. The decision to close the Hot Sulphur Springs library branch has not been put to a vote.
Grand County Library District was established as a Title 24, Special District in 1994 with funding based on a 2.4 percent mil levy of property taxes. Since 2010, property taxes values in Grand County have fallen 35 percent, or $750,000. In order to maintain a high level of services to our communities, the Library District has introduced efficiencies, refinanced debt, adapted and streamlined services and supplemented revenues through the planned spending down of operating reserves.
The downsizing of the Henderson Mine and Mill and subsequent additional losses in property taxes starting in 2017 has confronted the Library District with a financial tipping point. In order to continue to provide the open hours, children’s programs, collections, internet access and beloved library services, the Board is being forced to re-consider the current library service model and plan for a different future.
When will a decision be made, and by who?
KJ and SR: The Grand County Library District Board of Trustees operate under the governmental state statute, known as Library Law. As such, the Board is charged with the management and control of the Library District. Under these terms, the decision is based on a majority vote of the Board. It is anticipated this decision will be part of the 2017 budget deliberations, which are ongoing through the Board meetings held in the communities until the budget adoption in August.
When the kids gave testimony of how important the library was to them how did you feel? How did it affect your decision?
The children of Hot Sulphur were so memorable and impactful. The entire audience was overwhelmed by their eloquence. They are a testimony to the positive changes that libraries can make to lives. Who would not have been deeply moved by the response of the Hot Sulphur community? For me, it speaks to necessity for developing a plan to maintain the infrastructure in Grand County. Before other organizations are negatively impacted, we need to find a way to support funding for libraries, health care, schools and early childhood non-profits. These organizations are vital to the health and continued growth of our communities.
Have you been discussing any options with County Commissioners or County Interim Manager? Can they help the situation at all?
KJ and SR The Library District has kept the County apprised of its financial discussions. Unfortunately the County is facing similar property tax reductions and as such, is limited in its ability to offer assistance. There is potential for securing internet and phone service through the County.
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