Commitment to vibrant libraries despite funding snafu | PostIndependent.com

Commitment to vibrant libraries despite funding snafu

Emily Hisel
Garfield County Public Library District
Glenwood Springs, CO, Colorado

Recently, the Library District learned from Roxy Huber, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, that all entities receiving county sales tax will be impacted by a sizable loss of revenue.

The Department of Revenue lost a lawsuit regarding energy companies overcharging sales tax from 2002 to 2005. A refund is now due those companies who were impacted by the error.

Although the taxes were collected over several years, the refund is immediate, and will be subtracted from the Library District’s current sales tax collections starting in July and continuing through June 2012.

The amount of sales tax refund owed by Garfield County is around $3.9 million, and the Library District’s share is one-fourth of that amount. The district receives 0.25 cents of the county’s 1 cent sales tax, which is collected by the state. Those funds are used to operate all six libraries.

This has been devastating news for the Library District, as sales tax revenues have steadily declined for the past three years, down more than 50 percent from their historic highs in 2007 and 2008. Reducing the district’s operating income by another $1 million would have certainly resulted in a reduction in library operating hours and staff.

However, the Garfield Board of County Commissioners has stepped forward to help by agreeing to cover half of the amount owed by sales tax-funded entities in the county, including the Library District. The generosity of the county commissioners is greatly appreciated, and will definitely help the county libraries survive this blow.

Going forward, we know that cutting the remaining amount from an already tight budget is going to be challenging. The Library District is working diligently to determine where additional cuts can be found. The Library District Board of Trustees is committed to doing everything it can to prevent any cuts in services to the public.

Despite the drop in sales tax revenues, construction of new libraries will continue. The construction budget is funded through property tax as part of a ballot measure approved in 2006, which funds new construction or remodeling of all six libraries in Garfield County.

Revenues from property tax can be used only for library operations after construction is complete.

Currently, Rifle’s and Parachute’s new libraries opened in 2010, New Castle’s remodel and expansion project is under way, and design development has begun for a new library in Silt.

The Library District is purchasing land from the Roaring Fork School District for a new library in Carbondale, and is working with the city of Glenwood Springs, the Downtown Development Authority and Colorado Mountain College to build a new facility in Glenwood Springs. All facilities should be completed by the end of 2013.

The Library District continues to be committed to building energy-efficient buildings with an open design, which allows it to keep staffing to a minimum and operational costs as low as possible.

The Library District has strong cash reserves, and every budget discussion reflects our desire to create a sustainable and vibrant organization for the future. The Library District assures its patrons through Garfield County that it will survive this current setback and continue to provide services to all residents.

Thousands ‘Read Every Day’

More than 2,500 of your friends and neighbors have already begun to Read Every Day as part of the Garfield County Libraries’ summer program. Are you participating?

There are three divisions, one for kids, one for teens, and one for adults.

Children earn prizes for reading while teens and adults are entered in drawings – including end-of-summer drawings at each library for Nook eReaders. There are also free events for all ages throughout the summer. Register any time at your local library or going online to http://www.gcpld.org.

Libraries closed on Fourth of July

All six branches of the Garfield County Libraries will be closed Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. The libraries will resume normal hours at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5.

Patrons can still browse and request books, movies and more on the library website, http://www.gcpld.org, during the closure. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.


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