Steamboat library asking for two property taxes

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The East Routt Library District Board will ask residents to support two property-tax increases as part of its plan to expand the library.

In November, voters will be asked to approve a 1.4-mill levy increase for 20 years to fund an $11.4 million bond to expand the library. Along with that increase, voters will be asked in a separate question to approve an additional 0.8- to 1-mill levy to fund the operations of the expanded library. The smaller mill levy is intended to raise $625,000 a year.

On Tuesday, the Board of Routt County Commissioners approved a resolution placing a mill levy question on the ballot for operating expenses.

"An operating budget increase is necessary in order to maintain the operations of the library," library board President Tom Hopp said.

The library board did not have to go before the commissioners to put the construction-bond question on November's ballot. The board has the statutory power to put bond questions on the ballot. The library expects the 1.4-mill levy to raise about $900,000 a year to help pay off the bond.

The bond would fund a 20,000-square-foot, two-story expansion to Bud Werner Memorial Library, which sits at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The library board is proposing to keep the existing library in place for staff and community meeting rooms. It wants to build an addition to house the book collection, computer areas and reading and study space.

For the expansion to take place, the Steamboat Springs Community Center would have to be removed from the site. Even if the construction bond is approved, City Council members have pledged that the community center will not move until a new one is in place.

According to the Routt County Assessor's Office formula, the 1.4-mill levy to cover the bond would cost homeowners about $11.14 a year for every $100,000 of assessed value on their homes. The estimated 0.8- to 1-mill levy to cover the operating expenses for the expansion would cost homeowners between $6.37 and $7.96 per $100,000 of assessed residential value.

Residents in the East Routt Library District, which has the same boundaries as the Steamboat Springs School Dist--rict, already have a 2.34-mill levy on their property taxes to fund the library.

The mill levy to fund operating expenses would not go into effect until 2007, when construction is set to begin on the expansion. Hopp said that if assessed values go up, as expected, it would take less than 1 mill to fund the added operating expenses.

Library Director Chris Painter said the money would go toward funding staff and increased library hours and buying new books and computer equipment to be housed in the expansion.

In the next few months, the district intends to begin an education campaign and meet with groups throughout the community.

"We are going to make sure there is as much information as possible about the library expansion project," Painter said.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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