Commissioners to decide about library district on Tuesday
Advocates of a tax-supported Garfield County library district will have their day in court Tuesday in front of the board of commissioners.If the commissioners decide in favor of the district, voters will then vote on increasing property taxes to fund it, this November.The board has considered asking for a 2.5 mill tax, which would bring in revenues of $4.5 million annually and would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $80 per year. However, several members of local municipal governments have suggested a lower amount would be more palatable to the voters.The board also wants to keep the present one-quarter cent sales tax as well.According to library board member Bill Lamont, the board crafted a strategic plan in 2005 to determine what improvements were needed in the library system. “We realized how far behind we were in making capital improvements, staffing operating hours and services,” he said. If the measure passes, the board proposes to double the size of the Carbondale and Rifle libraries through expansion and build a new Glenwood Springs library.The board realized that it would need more than it was receiving from the county for operating costs if it was to make the badly-needed improvements. Currently, the libraries receive revenue from a one-quarter cent sales tax, which brought in around $2 million in 2005. That is enough to cover operating costs, but not enough to program capital expenses such as expanding or remodeling library buildings.In June, the board hired a consultant to guide them through the districting process. “First we needed to know the level of support we might have with the voters before we even started a campaign,” Lamont said.Keith Frederick of Denver conducted 300 telephone surveys of county residents, including all cities and towns. Results of the surveys showed that 82 percent of those polled supported the revenues from the current sales tax continuing to go to fund the libraries, and 63 percent supported the concept of creating a 1 mill levy to fund the expansion of the libraries. Respondents were split 44 percent for and 44 percent against a two mill tax increase, with 12 percent having no opinion.”The results were encouraging, but also showed we would have to work to keep our support,” Lamont said.The county commissioners will consider the question of forming a library taxing district at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
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