Basalt library will seek property tax hike
Basalt Regional Library District voters will be asked to approve a property tax hike for the next seven years or there will be cuts to staff and services.
The library’s board of trustees decided to seek a property tax increase in the Nov. 8 election that will raise $350,000 annually for the next seven years, board president Carolyn Kane told the Basalt Town Council on Tuesday. The campaign is just getting launched, she said, and will be headed by a citizens’ committee.
Proponents plan to start circulating an informal flier starting Sunday at the outdoor market in Basalt. The flier says the ballot question will add about 0.91 additional mills to property taxes. For each $100,000 of assessed property valuation, the additional cost will be $7.24 per year. Owners of a house with an assessed valuation of $500,000 would pay an additional $36.22 per year.
The district said it needs the financial boost because revenue dropped so severely during the recession. The annual revenue dropped from $1.5 million to $1 million.
Meanwhile, demand for services continues to grow. The number of cardholders increased from about 10,000 in 2010 to almost 23,000 now. The library is open seven days per week and offers a diverse menu of programs for everyone from kids to senior citizens.
The library proponents will make a case to voters that the district has tightened its belt. Deep cuts made in 2012 and “conservative management” since then have limited overall average increases in spending to 1 percent annually, the flier says. In addition, some construction bonds were refinanced at lower interest rates in 2012 and saved about $500,000.
If voters aren’t convinced, the district will be forced to close one day per week. The library will reduce its education programs, concerts, lectures and author visits. It will cut back on e-books, digital resources, newspapers, magazines, videos, movies and music, the flier says.
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“I don’t know how to feel about it,” said the Basalt firefighter who lost his home in the Lake Christine Fire last July about the sentence facing the couple who started the blaze.