Library election proves expensive |

Library election proves expensive

The two sides that squared off over a proposed midvalley library spent nearly $35,000 during the hard-fought campaign before the November election, according to finance reports.

The foes of the new library outspent proponents by a nearly 4-to-1 margin. The foes, a group called Citizens for One Library, spent $27,461.63 in cash and in-kind services, according to their finance report filed with the Colorado secretary of state.

On the other side of the issue, The Friends of the Basalt Regional Library spent $7,321.20.

The fight was over the library district’s proposal to raise property taxes to build a new library in El Jebel and expand the existing facility in Basalt. The proposal was soundly defeated at the polls by a 58 to 42 percent margin.

Political observers in the midvalley suspect that the $34,783 spent by both sides is the largest amount ever spent on a Basalt or midvalley political issue. It was also nearly equal to the amount spent in one of Aspen’s nasty political battles recently. About $37,000 was spent in August 2000 by the opposing sides in Aspen’s fight over the Burlingame affordable housing project.

The campaign finance report from the Citizens Against One Library showed that almost two-thirds of its donors were people with primary residences outside of Colorado.

The Aspen Times reported on election day that Roaring Fork Club partner Jim Light had recruited second-home owners and members of his golf and fishing club to contribute funds to the campaign.

His pitch was obviously successful. The report showed that 57 of the 91 contributors to the Citizens for One Library were from out of state. They accounted for nearly $4,800 in contributions.

All told, Citizens for One Library raised $12,860 in cash from its supporters for the campaign, according to its report. It received $14,601.63 in in-kind contributions.

The Schwener Design Group, a graphic design and advertising production company in Basalt, contributed $12,670 worth of work to the cause.

Chaffin-Light Associates, a development firm whose partners include Jim Light, contributed $1,931 in in-kind services, the report said.

Local members of the citizens’ group, such as co-chairman Charlie Cole, were critical at election time of the Times article that noted second-home owners played such a prominent role in the campaign. Cole said property taxpayers from out of the area had a legitimate right to contribute to the campaign even if they couldn’t vote on the issue.

The Friends of the Basalt Regional Library collected $5,872 in cash contributions and $1,449 in in-kind contributions, its report said.

About 33 percent of the contributions came to the library supporters from just two sources. George K. Baum, the Denver bonding company that was helping the library, contributed $1,450. Alpine Bank gave $1,000.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is]

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