Library project occurred after rejection by voters |

Library project occurred after rejection by voters

Less than four years ago, Pitkin County voters soundly rejected two ballot questions that would have funded a $10 million expansion of the county library.

The first, which asked voters to increase property taxes to raise $141,000 annually for ongoing costs associated with the expansion, lost 63 percent to 37 percent. The second, which would have authorized the county to borrow $5.4 million for the expansion that would have been paid back through property taxes over 25 years, lost 64 percent to 36 percent.

So how exactly is the Pitkin County Library opening today with a $14.3 million addition and expansion?

The answer, essentially, is that donors stepped up with more than $13 million in donations to the library since 1997, said Connie Baker, Pitkin County’s interim finance director.

The library’s endowment or capital reserve fund contained $7.4 million in donations at the end of 2013, she said. That was the result of a large number of donations received since 1997. Since that time, the library has received another $3.85 million in donations and $2 million in pledges, Baker said.

The facility is still looking for $550,000 in donations to meet its fundraising goal, she said.

The library’s fund balance will have to cover whatever isn’t raised by donors. That money comes from a 1.36 property tax mill levy that funds the library’s ongoing operations, Baker said. That levy raised more than $3.7 million in 2015, she said. Whatever money from that fund that isn’t spent on operations is saved for capital repairs and improvements, she said.

Pitkin County’s general fund loaned the library $1 million toward the project because some library donations had not come in yet and there weren’t enough to cover the construction, Baker said. That money will be paid back in two $500,000 chunks — one in 2016 and one in 2017, she said.

The library’s new technology lab, which features many different types of creative outlets for library patrons of all ages to use, cost about $12,000 to outfit, Baker said. That money came from the library’s mill levy-funded budget, she said.

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