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Jeffco library's tax increase wins approval

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By Ramsey Scott

The county’s voters approved a 1-mill property-tax increase for the Jeffco Public Library in Tuesday’s election.

Results showed the ballot measure prevailed with 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent.

The 1-mill increase will raise $8 million in revenue for the library annually by boosting property taxes on a $300,000 home by about $24 a year. The library system’s current tax rate is 3.425 mills.

“I was so thrilled with the community support and trust that their vote indicated. It really has empowered us to move forward and provide the 21st-century library services to this community that they deserve,” said Pam Nissler, executive director of the library. “Going in, we were cautiously optimistic. We believed it would be a very close vote because we were asking for additional funds, and that's a hard sell.”

Rebecca Winning, spokeswoman for the library, said during the run-up to the election that the property-tax increase was proposed after a comprehensive study of the library’s financial future was initiated in 2013.

The added revenue will address a litany of needs for the library system, including new materials and technology, capital repairs and expanded hours for its 10 branches.

Winning said the system has accumulated about $31 million in needs since 2008.

Nissler said two of the major issues the library will address with the new revenue will be extending hours at branches and investing heavily in new resources and materials for patrons.

“We are going to go from 51 hours a week to 65 hours a week in our larger libraries,” Nissler said. “The other big gift we’re going to give the community is more materials. We’re going to increase spending on that by $10 million. For books and other materials, we had the lowest per capita, which means people had to wait in long lines for materials to become available. And not just for bestsellers but also for many of the high-interest topics. This will make a huge difference on that, too.”

In 2010 the county commissioners reduced the library’s mill levy to 3.225 mills. In 2013, the commissioners restored the levy to 3.425 mills. The maximum library levy authorized by voters in 1986 was 3.5 mills.

The library had been forced to reduce hours at its 10 branches and make other cuts in recent years.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1035, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.