From Jefferson County Public Library:
(Lakewood, Colo. – Aug. 19, 2015) The Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) Board of Trustees has resolved to restore Library services and secure the future of the Library by placing a mill levy initiative on the November 2015 ballot.
“The Library has not had a mill levy increase since 1986,” said Ray Elliott, chair of the Library Board of Trustees. “Since then, the demand for library services has exploded. Population has grown by 30 percent, and we’re serving 240,000 more cardholders, hosting 1.6 million more visits and circulating 6.1 million more items than we did thirty years ago. With ongoing advances in information and communication technology, it has become clear to us that we can no longer deliver 21st century library services on a 20th century budget.”
The Library’s financial challenges intensified with the recent recession. Since 2008, the Library has had to reduce service hours, reduce its investment in books and materials, lay off employees, reduce investments in technology, and delay capital maintenance projects unless they were critical to library operations or patron safety. These reductions have had a devastating effect on library service levels; in fact, Jefferson County Public Library now ranks in the bottom quartile in key service measures when compared to other public libraries of similar size and service areas.
“Our job as Library trustees is to ensure equal access to information and opportunity through quality Library services,” Elliott said. “Now that the economy is improving, we’re committed to restoring and enhancing those services as quickly as we can.”
The trustees are seeking to increase the library’s mill levy from a maximum of 3.5 mills to a maximum of 4.5 mills. The one-mill increase will cost owners of a typical Jeffco home about $1.95 more per month in property taxes. The additional revenues will enable the library to restore library services to pre-recession levels, including:
- Expanding open hours at all JCPL libraries;
- Restoring the Library’s investment in books and materials;
- Updating computers, Internet access and other technology;
- Repairing and refurbishing library buildings; and
- Stabilizing the Library’s finances.
“We’ve spent the last three years studying this issue, and we’ve been encouraged by the interest and support we’ve received from the community,” Elliott added. “There appears to be broad recognition that a modest mill levy increase will allow us to restore library services, stabilize library finances, and secure the future of the Library for the foreseeable future. We look forward to providing the level of Library services our residents want and deserve,” he concluded.
Former state senators Mike Feeley and Norma Anderson have agreed to co-chair a volunteer campaign committee to support the mill levy initiative. For additional information, visit yesforjeffcolibraries.com.