Library Ballot Initiative Gains Support

Proposed tax would help restore hours, programs

In the words of Swedish glam metal band Europe: “It’s the final countdown.”

Election Day is less than a week away (it’s on Tuesday, Nov. 7, in case you’re unaware). Yes, the day marks the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election to the White House.

On the local level, there are more productive things going on, like the Montrose Regional Library District’s ballot initiative.

The proposed mill levy would raise property taxes by .85 of a mill, which roughly equates to a $6 annual increase on every $100,000 of assessed residential property value. The increase would amount to an estimated $25 annually on every $100,000 of commercial property value.

The increase would bring the library’s total property tax rate up to 3.85 mills, resulting in an additional $450,000 in funds for the district’s annual budget. Eighty-seven percent of the library’s budget comes from property taxes; the remainder is derived from small grants and private donations.

Proponents have been hot on the campaign trial stumping in support of the initiative.

In October, five community forums were held throughout Montrose County in Olathe, Montrose and Naturita.

“We wanted to be as available as possible across the district to answer any questions and elevate the message. The community meetings have been good,” said Casey Corrigan Reichmann, a Montrose Library Election Committee member.

The Montrose Regional Recreation Center even had a Library Day on Oct. 16, in which anyone with a library card was granted free access to the facilities. Another event will be held on Monday (the 11th hour), according to Library District Director Paul Paladino.

“We got to work right up until (the election), and leave it all out on the field,” he said.

Library-initiative representatives will be at the event to provide informational materials and to answer questions. If you’re in need of a library card, the Bookmobile, which will be parked outside of the rec center, can print one for you on site (then, you can get in free).

Corrigan Reichmann said the feedback has been positive.

“Basically, across the board we’ve seen a lot of support, which is awesome because it’s a really important time to get the library where it needs to be,” Corrigan Reichmann said.

Paladino added he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the ballot measure. He said there’s been support from Naturita, Olathe, Montrose and county officials as well.

Montrose County Commissioner Glen Davis remained mum on his position.

“As an elected official, representing all the people of Montrose County, I do not take a public stance on tax increases from taxing entities that affect all county residents,” he said. “I do encourage everyone to vote.”

If passed, Paladino said the first order of business would be to restore hours (the library is currently closed on Friday and Saturdays). Increased funds also would help beef up the Bookmobile schedule and resurrect extinct programs.

“The library has done a really good job in working within its means, but since the recession they’ve had to cut back,” Corrigan Reichmann said. “…This mill levy would just get us to a place where the library’s budget could comfortably bring back all those elements to the library that the patrons have been asking for — really, demanding.”

Paladino said the proposed property tax would help significantly, but the generated funds wouldn’t provide any more money than the library requires, at this point.

“We spent a lot of time coming up with just how much we need, and tried to keep it to what we need and not a penny more,” he said.

For more information about the ballot measure, visit imagineyourlibrary.org or the Facebook page @imagineyourlibrary.

Written by Justin Criado, Senior Staff Writer

The Watch | November 2, 2017
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2017-11-03T14:55:35+00:00