Boulder City Council to hear recommendations from Library District Advisory Committee

When Boulder Library and Arts Director David Farnan joined the team eight years ago, the search for the formation of a library district was included in the work plan of his work.

The process has been long and is not over yet. Boulder City Council and Boulder County Commissioners will have to approve the district, and then voters will have to agree to a property tax increase. But in any case, the conversation that has been going on for years seems to be heading towards a conclusion.

“Ultimately, the goal wasn’t just to sit down and do a bunch of research,” Farnan said. “Really what the work plan was for was that we have this larger community conversation, and I feel like we have.”

After agreeing to move forward with district formation in May and setting up a library district advisory committee to analyze key details, city council on Tuesday is expected to hear more about the recommendations. made by the 12-member committee during its eight meetings. .

Fernando Anzures puts away books at the George Reynolds Library in Boulder on February 4, 2022. Boulder City Council will hear a committee’s recommendations for a potential library district on Tuesday. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Among other things, as it seeks to achieve financial stability through a new property tax-funded district, the Library District Advisory Committee recommends funding the library district with a property tax levy of up to reach 3.8 thousandths and create a district library board of seven members. trustees to guide the work.

In order to expand its services, a goal set out in the 2018 Boulder Public Library Master Plan, the library is expected to bring in approximately $20 million annually. According to district boundaries, which are yet to be determined but will extend beyond the city limits of Boulder, an increase of 3.8 million would result in roughly that. For Boulder residents, this equates to an additional $26 in property taxes for every $100,000 of a home’s assessed value.

If the currently proposed district boundaries are approved, 1 factory generates $5.1 million.

However, there is much more to consider than the financial benefit the library system is likely to receive. There are the buildings and land, which the city largely owns, and the staff who would eventually become district employees if the district were approved and funded.

As such, the Library District Advisory Committee also made recommendations regarding buildings, grounds and staff.

The committee suggests that the intergovernmental agreement include a provision that library staff earn a living wage.

Tom Kelly searches for reading materials at the George Reynolds Library in Boulder on February 4, 2022. Boulder City Council will hear a committee’s recommendations for a potential library district on Tuesday. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Additionally, according to the staff memo for Tuesday’s study session, it suggests transferring ownership of the land and buildings from the George Reynolds Branch Library, Carnegie Library for Local History, and the new Boulder North Branch Library, as well as leases for the Meadows Branch Library and the NoBo Corner Library and other assets; and the transfer of ownership of the main library buildings through a new community of common interests.

LDAC member Joni Teter said the committee felt this would be the cleanest way to do it.

“It’s important for the library district to be able to make decisions about where to locate branches… going forward, as demographics change without really being related,” Teter said.

There’s also the question of how much Boulder will save by giving up more than 100 years of municipal control.

The city currently estimates about $9 million to $10 million in direct cost savings with additional savings in areas such as maintenance, staffing, and contract work, though that number is harder to pin down.

Staff identified a variety of areas where the money could be reallocated, including implementing the facilities master plan, maintaining and improving the transportation system, homeless services associated with council priorities and fundraising initiatives to meet the city’s aggressive climate goals.

The Library District Advisory Committee stressed the importance of considering how this money could be used well in advance of a vote, as this is something people will be interested in knowing when deciding whether or not to support an increase. taxes.

The committee recommended enlisting the help of the financial strategy committee and argued that conversations should happen now with plans to bring the community into the conversation.

“It’s ongoing money, and you really need a special process to allow people to weigh in on how it should be reallocated,” Teter said.

Although the Boulder Public Library is primarily funded by sales tax, it has a dedicated property tax of 0.33 million. This money could be reallocated with voter approval; collected and transferred to the library district; or reduced property taxes with a charter amendment and voter approval, according to the staff memo.

During a briefing with Boulder County Commissioners last week, Commissioner Matt Jones asked if the current boundaries were final. The current map extends to parts of unincorporated Boulder County that were affected by the Marshall Fire, and Jones wondered if it was a good idea to ask people who may have lost their homes to support a property tax increase.

Ultimately, it’s up to the city council and county commission to determine the boundaries, so the current map is a work in progress, Farnan noted.

“The intent of the map was to determine reasonable boundaries that relied on the greatest number of library users to fit into the funding base,” he said.

If the district is approved, the city council and county commission will sit on the board, which will be responsible for finalizing the language of the intergovernmental agreement between the library district, city and county. A property tax increase will probably be voted on in November.

If unsuccessful, a measure to fund the library district may be put on the ballot two more times. If it fails three times, the city and county will work together to figure out how to pay for the election, a cost that will fall to the library district if the ballot measure is successful.

If you look

What: Boulder City Council Study Session

When: 6:00 p.m. Tuesday

Or: Council and city staff will participate from remote locations. Residents can watch the meeting on Boulder’s YouTube channel or on Channel 8.


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