Library to seek tax hike
The Pitkin County Library will ask voters for a raise in November.County commissioners agreed Tuesday to put a property tax hike before voters that would fund additional staff and some equipment upgrades for the library. The 0.23 mill increase – a 20 percent hike – would generate about $385,000 a year in additional property tax revenues to support the library. An existing tax of 1.131 mills provides about $1.86 million annually to run the facility.The library board came to commissioners last year, proposing a tax hike for the November 2003 ballot, but elected officials suggested the board study its needs more closely. This time, commissioners supported the request.”What we’re asking for now, primarily, is funding for added staff,” said Kathleen Chandler, county librarian. The library’s staff has roughly doubled since 1979, she noted, but its circulation has more than tripled.Additional money will allow for additional librarians. Chandler said the library would also like to add eight more Internet computers for public use and provide staffers to offer assistance to those who need help on a computer.The library must also replace its obsolete book-detection system, which means re-indexing and tagging its entire collection with radio frequency identifier tags – likely a two-year project, Chandler said.Once that work is complete, the additional staff will allow the library to open its doors an hour earlier in the morning – at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. – Monday through Friday.The library last received a tax increase in 1993. The latest hike would increase taxes on a $1 million home by $18.31.”This is the opportunity for the voters to say, ‘Yes, I want to pay for additional service,'” said Commissioner Shellie Roy.Commissioner Jack Hatfield said he wasn’t sure he could support the tax hike, but he agreed with his colleagues to put it on the ballot.”Let the public make this decision,” he said. “You exist to serve the public.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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