Members of the Delta County Library District have been making presentations to the town councils to explain the reasons why they want the voters to approve a mill levy increase in the November election.
Annette Choszczyk, Delta County Library District director, spoke at the Paonia Town Council in late August.
The mill levy increase would benefit all five libraries in the district. A fact sheet is available at all the libraries to explain the ballot question.
The libraries are very busy. "Currently, about 10,000 people use our Delta Library alone. Three hundred to 500 use the Paonia Library every day. That's a lot of people going in and out of our libraries and using them. It ends up being, last year, over 325,000 people visited the libraries," Choszczyk said. "They are one of the most used places in our county."
The director said, "Don't be afraid. Books are not going away, but there are also electronic books and magazines and other things you can borrow as well. We serve schools and community locations throughout the county."
Patron assistance was up 85 percent last year. At the same time, county property values have gone down, which means less tax revenue for the public libraries. The library district is a taxing district. Over time, the lower revenue can cause severe shortages for the libraries, Choszczyk said.
"This year the board has decided to go to the voters and ask for a mill levy increase to keep these things going and to keep our buildings strong for the future," she said. "One of the top three things people ask about for real estate is libraries ... Our libraries attract people here and attract businesses to our communities."
The library district is asking voters to approve a 1.67 mills increase, from 3.0 to 4.67 on property taxes. That increase would add $2.22 a month or $26.59 more for the year on a $200,000 home. If voters approve the ballot question, the county library district expects additional tax revenues of around $503,300.
The fact sheet states the Delta County Library District is debt free and last asked for a tax increase in 1997.
The added revenue would pay for additional hours the libraries could be open, more staff and services and well-maintained facilities.
Library patrons may face reduced hours, fewer library staff, decreased collections in all formats, decreasing technology, and reductions in programs and classes for seniors and children.
Choszczyk then introduced John Gavin, the district's technology manager, to speak on another issue. He asked whether the Town of Paonia would be interested in partnering with the Paonia Library to implement two WiFi hot spots on a trial basis for the next five months. The library district has been approved for the trial which uses new technology based on "TV white space." That is TV bandwidth that has been made available by the switch of TV broadcasting from analog to digital.
Gavin explained that the Paonia Library would beam a signal to Paonia Town Park. Gavin would like to have the equipment and signal up in time for the Mountain Harvest Festival to benefit vendors and those attending with free WiFi service.
The FCC grant the library received provides for two hot spots. Gavin suggested the second could be located on Grand Avenue to benefit local businesses.
It was suggested that Paonia Town Hall might be a good second location.
The FCC calls this "Experimental Bandwidth," and they want to learn how well the TV white space will work for the public. If all goes well, it is expected the FCC will make this bandwidth available for public use in an unlicensed manner.
"We view this as a really great thing. Something good for the library, good for the town," Gavin said. TV white space goes through trees and bends around buildings, making it ideal for Internet hot spots.
Depending on the location for the access points, the signal would cover anywhere from a 500-foot to a quarter-mile radius. The equipment is in a small blue box just 8' x 7" x 2" plus two other pieces of equipment and an antenna.
Use of the equipment during the trial is free. After the trial, it can be purchased for $7,000. The library will provide the Internet bandwidth that will be provided to the hot spots during the trial. Gavin asked the town if it would be interested in helping to fund more bandwidth.
"There is a danger if we open this up to the public 24 hours a day, they could suck up all the library bandwidth," Gavin said. "So the patrons in the library would suffer."
The library currently pays $1,079 a month for bandwidth.
The council unanimously approved joining with the Paonia Library for the trial.
The council will need preliminary cost figures from Gavin for the 2014 budget should they decide to go forward with the hot spots beyond the trial period.blog comments powered by Disqus