Mill levy increase on ballot
September 13, 2016
At the September 6 Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting the Grand County Library District (GCLD) proposed the final draft of the mill levy increase ballot question for the November election. The BOCC unanimously passed the motion to refer the mill levy to the ballot.
The updated question proposed by the GCLD altered the language that will appear on the ballot. Specifically, the new wording omitted the phrase at the end of the list outlining what, exactly, the money from the mill levy would be used for if passed.
GCLD trustee Mary Chance presented the revised question to the BOCC.The Ballot question now states that the GCLD will seek an increased mill levy and, if it passes, the money will be used to: "pay off the district's outstanding lease-purchase financing and to operate, maintain, and improve library facilities and library services." The updated language omitted the phrase "and any other uses permitted by law," which was at the end of the list. The GCLD originally proposed the question at the August 23 BOCC meeting, but Commissioners Linke and Manguso expressed concerns about the language of the question, which was written by an outside firm, and suggested the library alter or omit the last item in the list for more clarity on what the mill levy money would be used for. The commissioners said the question would be more palatable for voters if changed. No special meeting was required for the language change because the change was so small, according to the GCLD's attorney.
According to the GCLD, The mill levy increase will raise enough money to pay GCLD's $4.5 million debt 10 years early, and by paying off the debt in ten years, they will save Grand County tax payers $1.2 million in interest payments—money they will not have to pay out in the end. By using money from the mill levy to pay their yearly debt payments they will be freeing up cash to run the district. According to the GCLD, getting rid of the debt as quickly as possible is the fiscally responsible thing to do to help them move towards a balanced budget. The mill levy sunsets in ten years when the debt is paid, so this way the GCLD will not be asking for more from tax payers than absolutely needed.
The library district pointed out that this does not ultimately mean that they will never have to cut services again, but by increasing the mill to pay off the debt early the GCLD can focus on their future and the library users when property values recover and the Henderson Mill picks back up again. According to a GCLD slide show presentation, the GCLD has crunched the numbers, and by taking care of the debt payment, tightening the budget, and cutting central services they can maintain their branches for the immediate future.
Also discussed at the BOCC meeting was the potential appointment of new GCLD board members. The GCLD will be evaluating two applicants for their board of trustee openings at their September 20 meeting at the Granby Library, and there is a good chance they will make decisions at the meeting, according to Chance. One candidate was interviewed at a previous GCLD meeting in Grand Lake, and the other candidate will be interviewed at the meeting in Granby.