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Garfield County Libraries back on solid financial ground after second year of new taxes

The Garfield County Public Library District looks to be back in “good standing,” in the words of County Commission Chairman John Martin, based on the district’s 2022 budget.

Library District chief financial officer and acting director Kevin Hettler presented the district’s nearly $9.2 million budget to county commissioners on Monday.

The budget reflects a balance between anticipated revenues and expenditures, with an $11.9 million projected fund balance carrying over from this year to next.



It’s a far cry from the six-branch library system’s fiscal woes prior to a 1.5 mill levy increase that earned voter approval in November 2019 and took effect in 2020, Hettler said.

Revenue shortfalls in successive years prior to that from an existing 1 mill levy and a dedicated 0.25% sales tax had resulted in a 30% budget reduction that substantially cut into library hours, programs and staffing.



With the new voter-approved revenues, the libraries have been in the process in recent months of restoring morning, evening and weekend hours and resuming programming that had been put on hold during the pandemic, Hettler said.

In some cases, service levels are greater than they were in 2017 before the cuts, he said.

Following the departure of former Executive Director Brett Lear in August, Hettler said staffing at the six branches and in key district positions has also stabilized.

Recently, new branch managers were hired and are on board in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. The district is still working to fill branch manager positions in New Castle, Silt and Rifle, as well as the executive director’s position.

“We are proud of our staff and how they came together this past year,” Hettler said. “We’re in a good spot, we’re moving forward, and we’re excited.”

The 2022 Library District budget reflects a $706,003 increase in expenditures for 2022 over 2021, including a $474,369 overall bump in wages and benefits and a $73,907 increase in library services.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.


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