Sixteen years ago in 1997 Delta County voters approved a mill levy to finance the operations of the Delta County Public Library District (DCPLD). When this mill levy was approved by voters the Internet was in its infancy, movies were on cassettes, and libraries provided primarily books.
Much has changed since then. New libraries were built in Crawford, Paonia and Cedaredge, the Delta and Hotchkiss libraries have been expanded, and technology has become a valuable addition to library services — creating lively community centers for all ages.
The three new libraries plus the two remodeled libraries have substantially increased total square footage, which has significantly increased the cost of maintaining our libraries. The current level of use of computers and other digital technologies in our libraries could not have been imagined in 1997, but the addition of digital technology is expensive, as is the cost of maintenance and repair. Equally important is the impressive growth in the number of people who use library services, which requires more staff.
Though comparable in the areas they serve, the DCPLD operating budget is 70% of the size of the Montrose Library District budget, and Montrose operates two libraries, not five. Since its inception DCPLD has efficiently managed its funds, is debt free, and has not gone to the voters for a mill levy increase since 1997.
Voter approval of the mill levy increase will allow DCPLD to restore and increase library hours and staff to meet patron needs, expand programs and services for all ages and interests, update technology, and provide adequate building and equipment maintenance. All this for a modest $27 increase in annual property taxes on a $200,000 home. That's just over $2 per month.
We should all be proud that Delta County has five full service libraries, one of only two counties our size in Colorado that has this distinction. Our five libraries, like schools, parks, and roads, are important community assets and should be adequately financed. To do that requires only a small increase in property taxes. A small investment with a big return.