Guest Opinion: Why We’re Voting YES on the Library District Mill Levy
October 6, 2016
The Grand County Library District (GCLD) was formed in 1994. It started by joining together the five existing libraries: Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs, Grand Lake, Granby and Fraser. When faced with decreasing tax revenue for 2017, GCLD announced that it would close the Hot Sulphur Springs Library and would transform the Kremmling and Grand Lake Library branches into "kiosks" with no programming and limited services. In response to that announcement the public spoke out in protest with parade entries, letters to the editor, petitions, speaking out at library board meetings and county commissioners' meetings. Various alternative ways to save money and increase revenue were suggested by the public. Finally, the GCLD said they heard us. To date the Library Board has made the following decisions that will positively impact the budget:
-Fines for late returns have been increased as well as increases to the charges for copying and faxing.
-The administration building has been put up for sale.
-A central services employee who resigned will not be replaced but her duties will be shared among several existing employees.
-The Board of Trustees has asked the county to vote for an increase to their property tax mill levy (if passed this will be the first increase since the district was formed in 1994).
-The requested tax will cost $8 a year or 2 cents a day per $100,000 residential value according to the GCLD finance director.
Someone might wonder why, after being outspoken critics of the library district, we would decide to not only vote "Yes" for the increased mill levy, but to campaign in favor of it. These are some of the reasons:
-First and foremost, we believe that libraries are invaluable to the communities they serve, and therefore need to be preserved. We want to see full library services available across Grand County.
-It's our understanding that in the event the mill levy increase passes, it is the intention of the Board of Trustees to keep all FIVE Grand County branches operating.
-The library district is saddled with a building debt that takes money away from library services. The decision to go into debt was made by a different board during a different time. The money raised through a mill levy increase will go to pay off the debt that is weighing down the library district and will save county taxpayers $1.2 million by paying off that debt early, according to GCLD calculations. This will help ALL taxpayers and ALL libraries.
-The mill levy increase will end in 2026, when the debt is paid off.
While working to pass the mill levy we will continue to work toward gaining financial transparency and to urge that cuts be made to overhead costs and not services.
Vote YES on question 1B and show that we value and support ALL of the Grand County Libraries.
Marla J Gall