Commissioners hear plan for library taxing district
Although careful not to weigh in on whether they would support a special taxing district for the county libraries, the Garfield County Commissioners Monday had some words of advice for the board.The library board hopes to mount a ballot question in the November election that would use property tax to support enlarging libraries and increasing hours of operation.Despite receiving the revenue from a countywide one-quarter cent sales tax – which brought in around $2 million in 2005 – library board president Bill Lamont said funding is short for building improvements.The board originally proposed a 2.5 mill levy but is now reconsidering that amount after several members of local municipal governments suggested a smaller amount would be more palatable to the voters.A 2.5 mill tax would bring in revenues of $4.5 million annually, Lamont said. The tax would cost $80 per year for the owner of a $400,000 home.If the measure passes, the board proposes to double the size of the Carbondale and Rifle libraries through expansion and build a new library in Glenwood Springs, possibly on land near the city and county complex downtown.County Commissioner Larry McCown suggested the library board should be clear in its ballot language about how the tax revenues would be spent.”Earmarking” where the funds would be spent “has proved very successful in passing of issues,” he said. “If people are clear about what you’re spending money on, then (they’ll) have a higher comfort level” with the measure.The board also wants to keep the present quarter-cent sales tax as well. Mingling two tax sources for the library special district may not wash, however. “People might think they’re being double taxed,” said Commissioner Trési Houpt.Commissioner John Martin questioned its legality.”There may be a conflict in dollars going to the library when there’s a special district,” he said. “We will need a legal opinion (on it).”Lamont assured the commissioners the board is also pushing for the municipalities in the county – Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute – to financially support the libraries.”We want the communities to take more ownership of the libraries,” he said. “That will be part of our public education campaign.”In June the board will survey public opinion on the special district.Selling the district to the voters will be a challenge. The library took the question to the voters in 1999 and the measure was roundly defeated.”Any kind of tax increase is a tough sell,” Lamont said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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Former Carbondale trustee Katrina Byars said she wants to bring a voice of environmental sustainability to the commission, and believes her opponent has served long enough.