The District is asking for a property tax increase of 0.85 mills. This will increase the total mill levy to 3.85 mills for the Library District. This tax increase will sunset (go away) in ten years. The Library District has not had a mill levy increase since 2004. The additional 0.85 mills will generate about $440,000 for the Library District.
The Library District has been getting many requests for increased services. The Library Board of Trustees finished a strategic planning effort this fall that looked at how to accommodate these requests and to determine where the Library District should go over the next five to ten years. Pricing out that strategic plan led the District to the conclusion there isn’t enough money to fund these increased requests, and that led the Board to go to the voters this fall.
The increase will cost residential property owners $6.12 per year for every $100,000 in residential valuation. The average homeowner in the Library District will pay about $12 per year more in taxes. Commercial property owners will pay about $25 per year for every $100,000 in valuation. Refer to our Tax Increase Chart for more details.
Since the 2008 recession, the Library has reduced staff by 33%, cut operating hours from seven days per week to five days per week, slashed bookmobile services by 71%, reduced book and material resources by 34% and delayed facilities maintenance. The District has tightened its belt considerably. The District has also used reserves to keep these reductions in service from being even more harsh. And the Library District has balanced the budget every year.
The Library District is seeking this increase to fund these goals:
- Open the Montrose Regional Library seven days a week, opening on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Increase our books and materials budget.
- Increase outreach services by sending the bookmobile out more often and bringing back service to senior centers. The bookmobile currently has more than 45 requests for stops the District can’t even consider.
- Catch up on maintenance issues. Library facilities are a community investment and it is generally less expensive to maintain small problems before they become big problems.
- Put money into reserves again to tide the District over through budget shortfalls and to fund capital expenditures. The Library District has never borrowed money to fund a facility or project.
If the election passes, the Library District will receive the increased revenue beginning in January of 2018. Therefore, the Board has decided to use some of our reserves to start on improvements as soon as possible. Subject to staff scheduling, the Library would like to begin opening on Fridays and Saturdays within a few weeks.
Despite these increases in property value, the interplay between the TABOR and Gallagher Amendments have suppressed tax increases to the Library District. District revenues went down 21% with the recession and have only rebounded about 5%. The District is still down 16% from the pre-recession levels.
Every resident who lives in the Library District and is a registered voter can vote on the issue. This includes all of Montrose County except the Town of Nucla and the area north of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
The election will be held by mail and ballots will go out in mid-October. Ballots are due back on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.
Grantors love to fund exciting, new projects. The Library District gets between $50,000 and $100,000 in grants each year. Unfortunately, the District just doesn’t have the staff to start these new, exciting programs that grantors are looking to fund.
With this increase in the mill levy, though, the District could start to bring in more grant money. Grant-making organizations don’t like to fund operating expenses. They feel funding operating expenses is the role of the local community. Also, the District’s grant writer left the District and so the responsibility for grant writing falls to the reduced number of staff.
The Montrose Regional Library District gets this question a lot. There is a misconception that Friday and Saturday are high usage days or would be if the library were open on these days. In fact, when we were open seven days a week, Friday and Saturday were our slowest days. Therefore, when the MRLD had to make dramatic cuts in 2012 and 2015, the library was able to save the most by closing on these days, and shortening hours of operation on Monday through Thursday, among other dramatic cuts.
In 2017, the State of Colorado gave the Montrose Regional Library District at total of $11,480.
The Montrose Regional Library District current budget is $2,076,000. The District operates three libraries, in Montrose, Naturita, and Paradox, and a bookmobile. There are 28 employees, down from 42 before the recession.
The Library District will continue to balance its budget. The Library will offer its current level of excellent service for the foreseeable future. There is a possibility of cuts in a few years if the assessed values of property don’t continue to grow sufficiently before reserves are depleted.
Yes, the Library District asked for an increase of 0.8 mills in 2015. Out of 10,988 ballots cast, 5,231 were for the issue and 5,757 were against, resulting in a difference of 526 votes.
The mill levy is the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value of a property. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 of assessed property value. Mill levies are used to fund local government services.
In Montrose County, mill levies fund local public schools, the fire district, the Montrose Regional Library District, and other special districts. There are about 36 taxing districts in Montrose County. Most districts only cover a portion of Montrose County and thus not every resident pays into every district.
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