Hike funding

Boulder County voters will decide future control and funding of Boulder’s library system

Voters in Boulder and parts of Boulder County will be asked next month if they want a property tax-funded library district and if they support the repeal of the city’s municipal control over the library system.

Two ballot measures regarding the Boulder Public Library are on the November ballot and are ready for community response. The first measure, Boulder Public Library District Ballot Number 6C, asks voters in Boulder and parts of unincorporated Boulder County, including Gunbarrel, Gold Hill and Eldorado Springs, to s’ they support a property tax funded library district and if they are willing to pay an annual increase of $23 per $100,000 of residential property value and $97.60 per $100,000 of commercial property value.

The second library-related ballot is the Boulder Ballot Issue 2C: Repeal Library Commission and tax. This measure will go into effect if voters approve the library district’s measure. Currently, the Boulder Public Library is municipally controlled and city residents pay a dedicated 0.333 million to support the library system. If voters give a district the go-ahead in November, this second ballot measure would remove municipal control of the city and repeal that factory tax, ultimately returning the money to Boulder residents.

Prior to the election, two opposing local groups, Keep Our Libraries and Boulder Library Champions, actively campaigned for and against the library measures.

Among the naysayers is Boulder Chamber CEO John Tayer, who has expressed concerns about the burden a property tax hike would place on Boulder businesses as many still face financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.

“This is a huge property tax that will directly impact businesses that are just recovering from COVID and are facing huge headwinds related to employee retention (and) cost challenges. swollen materials and products,” he said.

Another concern for the chamber and supporters of Keep Our Libraries is the loss of more than 100 years of municipal control in exchange for a separate board.

“Right now, if our community is interested in library services and running the library system, they can speak directly to their elected officials and ask for action,” he said. “It’s not the responsiveness you expect from a board appointed from individuals who serve five-year terms and don’t need to respond to voters.”

But Angela Bowman, a Boulder resident and owner of a website development company, disagreed with the narrative that the Library District would put more pressure on small business owners. Although she rents shared space in Boulder, which helps mitigate the impact she feels from tax increases, she knows many other businesses that do not share space with other tenants and still support the measure of the library district.

“There are business owners who really maximize the profits they make from business revenue,” Bowman said. “I would say it has more impact on small businesses. It’s not the small businesses that don’t want (the library district), it’s the wealthy owners that pass the raises on to the small businesses.

She added that this tax increase adds up when paired with mandatory annual rent increases, but the formation of the Library District isn’t the real problem for the small-business owners she knows.

“The library budget is always on the chopping block whenever there’s a need in the city,” Bowman said. “For me, it made sense that we provided more stable funding. It made sense that this was a very efficient and sustainable way to fund our library. »

Joni Teter has heard community complaints about the property tax hike and thinks it unfairly puts more pressure on businesses, but Boulder is running out of options, she said.

“There are people who say we need to study this and that,” said Teter, chair of the Boulder Library Champions campaign. “We have studied everything. This is the last plan standing. Everything has been watched. The opposition offers no solution.

Teter said if the district passes, she looks forward to expanding services to Gunbarrel residents, who have wanted to have their own branch for many years.

“It’s not that we’re going to do this flashy new thing,” she said. “It’s just about extending very important grassroots programs to the people who need them the most in the community.”

Although Teter said his group had spent a lot of time in areas like Gunbarrel and Niwot educating residents about the initiative, Boulder County residents who reside at Lake Valley Estates said they had only received no campaign news until recently.

“We feel caught off guard,” said Lake Valley Estates Homeowners Association member Scott Hemphill.

Hemphill said he doesn’t understand why his community falls within the district boundaries, when residents of Lake Valley Estates don’t use Boulder’s services.

“We are in the geography of the St. Vrain (Valley) School District,” he said. “Our postal code is Longmont. We don’t use anything in Boulder. So being taxed by something in Boulder doesn’t make sense. We feel like we’ve been annexed without our approval.