Anyway, the library. As you might remember, the formation of a library district (a separate gov't entity with a dedicated tax) has been a topic for many a year.

Here's the staff presentation:…
The reason is that the library has been chronically underfunded, proponents of a district say. I've done quite a bit of coverage on this, but not in awhile. Council last visited the topic in Feb. 2020.…
The Library Master Plan, adopted in 2018, ID’d that the library needs more money and a more stable source of funding to meet its goals for continued and expanded service (like branches in Gunbarrel, etc.)
The Library is solely city-funded (mostly the general fund, but also a small amount from a dedicated property tax, 0.333 mill levy) but a huge portion of users live OUTSIDE the city.
The Library Champions, a group advocating for a district, created a petition to send this q to voters in 2019, but stopped their effort at council's request, in exchange for making this (more library $$) a city priority.
The library got an additional $700K in funding over 2019-2020
So how would a district be formed? Either the council and BoCo Commissioners would each pass a resolution to form one OR residents can do a petition (100 signatures required, submitted to county commissioners) to place the question on the ballot.
Assuming we go the petition route, there would be two questions put to voters: Should we do a district? And do you approve the ta to pay for it?

Even if the city/council forms a district by resolution, they still have to ask voters to OK funding (cuz TABOR)
A 5-7 member Board of Trustees would govern the library district. You can think of this district kind of like BVSD or RTD (though RTD covers a way bigger area and trustees are elected, not appointed)
BVSD's are, too. Duh. My bad.
The library district board might eventually be elected as well, but the initial board would be appointed by the city council / county commissioners.

Why is the county involved? Bc the district would include unincorporated parts of BoCo.
I'm trying not to get too far ahead of the presenters, because I don't want to muck anything up RE: financials.
Budget numbers are tricky bc, the Library Champions argue, just looking at the current operating budget doesn't take into account all the things that AREN'T being funded bc the city only gives so much $$... the whole reason we're here.
With that in mind, the original 2020 library budget was $9.1 million ($7.5M from general fund; $1.6M from the library fund, them main source of which is the 0.333 mill levy)

That was cut by more than 14% due to COVID, resulting in a $7.8M budget ($6.4M GF; $1.4M library fund)
There's also $1M in unfunded operations cost for the new NoBo branch, and $2.3M in deferred maintenance. Given that (plus restoring the COVID cuts) the total operating cost for the library is $15.8M
To fully fund the master plan goals (Niwot and Gunbarrel branch, collection expansion, etc.) is $20M per year
Put another way.... more than double the pre-COVID budget. Even without funding those master plan goals, full restoration of the budget + critical ops/maintenance needs is more than 2X current (COVID-level) spending.
As we know from two weeks ago, the city is already struggling to pay for a lot of things.…
How much would the library district tax cost you? It depends what level they set it at. Here's a chart.
But somewhere around $200/year if you have a property valued at $850K.
Fun fact(s) from the packet!
41% of commercial properties in Boulder are worth less than $850K
Avg. value of commercial properties is $3.1M
If a district is formed, some $$ would be freed up at the city level: up to $6.4M of the general fund yearly.
There would be reduced costs, says deputy finance director Kara Skinner, but also the possibility for new revenue (if the district pays for the continued use of overhead admin services like HR, finance, etc, worth ~$3M/year)
So that could be ~$10M more for the city to spend on other stuff, right now. In the future, it could be higher ($14M), assuming the city would otherwise have to pay for the NoBo branch operations, restore COVID cuts and pay for deferred maintenance.
Council hasn't been so keen on a library district in the past. They don't want to cede control of the library or its assets.
Although *this* council hasn't really done much with the district. It was supposed to but... COVID.
A public hearing on the district is scheduled for April 20.
Going over some details of district formation. Not super relevant to you, the voters. All you need to think about is: Should we do this? What do you want from your library? How much will it cost?
I really enjoyed past presentations on this, when a visiting expert on library districts joined discussions. What a delightfully specific thing to be an expert in.
I, of course, also have a specific expertise: Boulder city council, circa 2016-present. Delightful is debatable.
Anyway, library districts are very common, including in Colorado. (I know I have data on that somewhere....)
Q from Mayor Weaver: For taxing purposes, are apartment buildings commercial or residential properties?
Devin Billingsley: Kinda yes and no. They are taxed closer to residential properties than commercial for property taxes.
So renters won't pay the higher commercial rate, Weaver summarizes. "That's great to know."
Weaver asks about NoBo operating costs. The current corner branch is ~$300K per year; the bigger branch will be $1M a year (much bigger, more staff, etc.)
Still talking about the many ways a district could be formed.
We've spent a lot of time on this in past meetings, too, which always seemed backward to me. Why don't we first decide if we're going to do it, then drill into the how?
But Weaver hits on why this has been such a big focus: 90 days after the district is formed, the city and the county have to enter into an IGA (intergovernmental agreement) with the district's board to work out the details (sharing assets, etc.)
Funding details also have to be figured out before the district is formed, since the language includes funding needs.
Brockett: If the city instead seeks higher property taxes to generate more $$ for the library, wouldn't we have to change our charter as well? (There's a cap on mill levy in there, and we're pretty close to it)
Skinner confirms that is the case.
Brockett: How much wiggle room do we have in our mill cap?
Close to and/or under 2 mills, staff says.
That would NOT apply if a district is formed because it would be its own gov't entity; not under Boulder's charter.
Brockett: If a district is formed, the $$ that gets freed up from library spending would essentially be discretionary funding? We can use it for whatever we want?
Skinner: Correct.
The 0.333 mill levy dedicated the library today (in place since 1918) would cease to exist.
Brockett: Could we use some of the $$$ on a property tax relief fund? For people that would struggle with even an incremental increase?
City attorney David Gehr: There's nothing to stop you from doing that.
Meschuk with some info: Charter cap is 13 mills; we're at 11.981 mills currently. So it's just over 1 mill we have to play with; any more than that, the charter would have to be ammended.
Yates: Have we talked with the county? Do they know we're thinking about this?
Gehr: At least the prior commissioners, they were not particularly interested in forming a district if the city wasn't on board. They would look to the city for leadership.
"Which makes sense," Gehr says, since the county's role in this is pretty much limited to the jurisdiction for the election. They don't own any library assets or provide any library services.
Yates asks for a breakdown of costs to meet master plan goals: How much is operating (fixed annually "forever") and how much is capital? (one-time, like to establish the Gunbarrel and/or Niwot branches?)
Not readily available, but perhaps later in the meeting or before April's public hearing.
Yates: If it's really costing us $3.4M to provide overhead admin services to the library, but then the district at some point stops buying them for us, how would that be relief?
Skinner: Right now, that's being paid for out of the general fund. The district could pay for those services, which would be budget relief. If they don't, it's hard to know how much $$ we'd save, if any (because the costs are all lumped together for all city dept)
Yates: Is it really fair to us to say it costs $3.4M to provide to the library, if we need those lawyers and IT folks and HR staff anyway? If we shut the library down tomorrow, we'd need those people for other city dept?
Skinner: I don't think we should discount the entire $3.4M (as some budget relief). If they were a standalone entity, that's what it would cost them to provide those services.
Yates: It's not costing us $3.4M.
Skinner: It's still costing us, though.
Yates: "You said many of those costs would not be avoided if the library district chose not to buy them from us."
Skinner: "I do think at least $2M is very directly related" to the library.
Brockett: I don't think you could back any of it out of the current way we talk about paying for the library. It is the library's share of those costs. It's the case that that $3.4M is the proportional share of the library's centralized costs.
Wallach: Can conveyance of library assets to the district be done by lease?
Yes, Gehr says.

That means the city wouldn't have to transfer ownership of assets (buildings, books, machines, etc.) to the district.
I thought that was the case, but it's been awhile since we've been over it. I have a list of those assets somewhere...
Wallach: How many would-be district voters live outside the city of Boulder?
30%, says library commissioner Juana Gomez
2 Wallach sighs in the last minute, so we're at ~5.5 on the Sigh-O-Meter tonight
Another one! Sigh-O-Meter: 6.5
Wallach: Why is $850K the house value we're using as an example of how much this would cost?
Skinner: That was the median value for single-family homes back in 2018, so that's what the consultant used.
Wallach: "That may not appropriately state what the" actual impact will be.

He check the MLS today: 134 listings over $850K; 12 under $850K
Wants "more detail" on impacts to commercial space, too, based on value. Skinner promises that.
Yates also wants to see what the impact would be to tenants. Asks staff to work with BARHA to figure out how much of those costs are typically passed onto renters.
Seems incredibly unlikely there will be a standard calculation for that.
Gomez back with some more info: The tax is levied on ASSESSED value (which was $647K in value at the time of the study, upped to $850K in 2018) not the SALE PRICE.
More process qs.
Not quite understanding Young's qs.... nor is staff, apparently.
Library director David Farnan: "We do not have the funding to reopen branches in 2021."
Two branches closed for the entire year, as a reminder.
Young: The main library would reopen (under easing restrictions) with reduced operation, right? What's the difference between where we are now and full reopening, $$ wise?
Farnan: Majority of $1.3M in COVID cuts were primarily to staff.
Young: Once the library reopens, will the staffing level be at the same level as pre-COVID?
Farnan: "Not until the funding is restored. Those employees have been let go."
Brockett asks Young's q in another way that is still really hard for me to translate for you.
Farnan: We repurposed staff to do home delivery. We're calling every single patron over the age of 60 just to check in on them. So we have some staff working remotely. 99% of our staff said they would be willing and able to come back to work on-site.
If COVID restrictions were lifted, that is.
Some things that wouldn't come back in 2021, no matter what: the Canyon theatre, the maker space.
Still feel like this wasn't entirely answered, but it's hard to know bc I have 0 idea what the question was.
Farnan: We're open now. It's limited browsing, some computer use. That exists now. "That would probably not expand dramatically."
LOL Friend starts to jump in but Young has more qs
"You're not done?" Friend says, voicing what we're all thinking.
Young: Do we have the capacity to execute an IGA with the county/library district? Does COVID impact that?
Gehr: I think if this were a priority of the council, we would certainly put resources toward it to get it done.
Young: Woud we have to make decisions about things that don't get done in order to get this done?
Meschuk: There's a whole group of staff that would be involved in an IGA. We can follow up with that in April.
Meschuk: "If the direction of council is to move down the IGA path, we'd rearrange the work plan to make it happen. I'm not sure what those tradeoffs would be."
Young: "I would like to see that. Invariably, there would be tradeoffs."
Young: "What I'm hearing is this is a political question. ... Staff wouldn't make a recommendation."
Gehr: "I wouldn't go that far. .. There certainly is quite a large political component to this."
Meschuk: "This is a really big decision. What we were anticipating is the April meeting would be the opportunity to hold a public hearing and for council to then give the initial direction of which of these paths are you interested in going down."
Meschuk: Which route are we going to go? Keeping the library as a municipal service and exploring funding? Or the library district? "It's really for council to help shape that."
Friend: From my perspective, it would be helpful if there were a staff recommendation in there.
Gehr: One of the things I was hoping to hear tonight is the info, resources council members need to be educated on the topic.
Farnan, in response to Weaver q: Study commissioned by the city found that average operating costs over 15-year period was $20M annually.
Weaver asking about library funding over time. Here's a chart!
And how it compares to police and fire
All are doing better than parks and rec
Young asks how district board members would be seated every year. The city can spell that out in the IGA, Gehr says.
First group not necessarily picked by city council; council members could appoint people other than themselves to a selection committee.
Wallach echoes calls for what city priorities/projects will be displaced in order to pursue a district.
Yates to council: How do you feel about a TABOR measure for library funding this year?
Friend: I personally would rather answer than in April once we have all the information.
Brockett: Can we answer that after we have a discussion?
Yates: I can't discuss this until I know the answer to the question.
Nagle seconds that.
Nagle: "This is a very hot topic." Says staff should prepare the April presentation based on emails and past feedback from the community.
Brockett: I just want to get one comment out before we took a straw poll. I would want to hold open the possibility of a TABOR election in 2021, but I would not say we should definitively do it in 2021.
That depends on how much stimulus comes through, what our economy is looking like, etc., Brockett says.
Young: I'm concerned asking a TABOR question on top of the infrastructure tax extension could risk funding for infrastructure.

"I don't want to risk that tax with another question."
Swetlik seemingly as confused as me.
"In my mind, it's important we change the maximum mill levy" before we pursue library funding.
Brockett: If we formed a district, we wouldn't have to change the mill levy cap.
Swetlik: Oh, sorry, I missed that.
Wallch agrees with Young: "Any extension of a tax is a heavy lift. I don't want to confuse that with" library funding. "I think it would be horrible timing. Asking in effect for two tax measures is very unwise."
So I guess that homeless services tax council has mentioned is either not a serious suggestion or something they don't care if it fails....
Hey, Joseph mentions that possible tax!
We don't even know how many tax measures we'll be pursuing this year, Joseph says.
Gehr: Typically we come to council in May for the pre-ballot study session.
Joseph: "I do think if it's competing with another issue that's very important to me, that's going to be very hard. ... Is it necessary we have the ballot measure this year?" Or can we create the district and have the funding on the ballot another year.
I think I remember that if the district isn't funded within a certain amount of time, it ceases to exit. Gehr should be answering that.
Gehr: "Exploring a district without the TABOR measure allows you to have that community conversation about what this district will look like ... so that people will truly know what they're voting on."
That can be written into the language for forming a district. If the funding measure doesn't form within a certain time, the district will end. So council could form a district on paper and wait on the funding to make it a real district.
Joseph: I don't have the answer as to whether we should form/fund now or later. We're still having the discussion on possible tax measures, so it's fuzzy to me.
Straw poll time
Majority does NOT want to ask voters to fund a library district in 2021
That was Yates, Weaver, Young, Nagle, Wallach
Weaver: "I think the meat of this question is what the IGA says .... all that forming the district does is get some straw men appointed to the trustee board, but we don't need that, bc the IGA itself needs to be driven by staff and council"
He wants proposed IGA terms in April. "I don't see a particular driver to form the district either." The rest of the year could be spent on the IGA.
"I don't think we need to" form a district until the funding ballot measure is ready.
Swetlik asking a q about something we covered already. Much confusion among council on this one, for some reason.
To clarify: The city council and county commissioners can form a district without voter OK but the funding HAS to be approved by voters who would lie within the district (and therefore be taxed)
Young: I'm going to ask a q that will probably lead to me being booed out of the room.
It involves math. I'm already booing.
The mental gymnastics this woman goes through to ask questions merely to confirm her own existing opinion/thoughts are outstanding to watch.
Farnan taking issue with some of Young's calculations. "Your math, Mary, while ... interesting, it doesn't hold up." LOL
Wow, a rare Brockett sigh. Am I going to have to start a Brockett Sigh-O-Meter???
Brockett: "I want to see what we can do to move that (a district) forward this year." Wants to form it this year. "You can't write and approve an IGA until you form the district."
Brockett: I'd like to hear from the library dept a perspective on a district.
Yates is with Weaver: Do the IGA first, incorporate community input, then form the district. Not necessarily this year.
"It seems to me creating the district without knowing the answer to those questions" is like voting on the bill without knowing what's in it, Yates says, nodding to that infamous Nancy Pelosi quote on the ACA, which Snopes notes is lacking context.…
Nagle: "I'm still curious to hear from the community." Suggests putting up "pertinent questions" that residents can attempt to answer. "It just might be helpful."
I think council over-estimates the level of community interest in this. Feels very insider baseball (and this from someone who is an insider, or at least an inside observer)
Yates: "I'm not too sure what the advantage is of trying to rush to form a district this year."
Brockett: If we pre-create an IGA, it could very well be rejected by the approving bodies. There's the risk of spending a lot of time on it for nothing. The statutory process is to form the district and then do the IGA.
Yates disagrees. If we have the ppl at the table who are going to vote on it, then they'll come up with an IGA they can agree to.
With that, I think we're actually done. At least with the library topic, which went WAY over time.

As Friend put it, this discussion was "like herding cats."
@threadreaderapp please unroll. Thank you!

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Shay Castle

Shay Castle Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @shayshinecastle

26 Feb
"I think it's got to be a holistic approach," Kevin says.
"You gotta have the enforcement piece along with services to support the homeless population."
Huntley asking the first q (climate change, sustainability, etc.) again.
Read 56 tweets
26 Feb
Hey, #Boulder, did you remember that the city manger finalists public q&a is tonight? Prob some time for last-minute registrations here:…
You can learn more about the finalists — Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde from Austin, TX and Kevin Jackson from Long Beach, Calif. — in this story. I'm also going to share a bit more of what I know about both cities in this thread b4 the meeting starts.
First of all, they're both WAY bigger than Boulder, which is interesting. Some stats:

Population: 950,807
Square miles: 326.51
Budget: $4.2 billion
City employees: ~13,500
Read 23 tweets
24 Feb
Almost forgot your Wednesday morning city council recap, #Boulder.

Probably no library district this year, as majority of members fear competing tax measures.…
Last chance to apply for the resident advisory panel to assist Xcel and Boulder's energy work. Also in this thread: Details on plans for burying power lines and changing streetlights to LED.…
Applications for this panel close Friday.

Also, no thread, but we'll have a new city attorney by June.
Read 4 tweets
24 Feb
Here's a timeline for the city attorney recruitment:…
Looks like we'll have a new one by June, which should overlap nicely with Carr's retirement.
Some discussion among council about sticking with the current recruitment firm for the city attorney as for the city manager since, as Wallach says, it's slightly different.
Read 6 tweets
24 Feb
Quick 2-min break then: Muni wrap-up!
That went by fast. Anyway, the muni ended with November vote to re-enter an Xcel franchise after 10 years. But you know what they (OK, me) say: It's not over until the general fund is repaid.
Read 69 tweets
24 Feb
It is again Tuesday, #Boulder. A city council study session tonight, not a full meeting. And yet, I fear it will still be a long one.
V low energy today.
Hopefully these delicious mashed potatoes I'm eating will help.
Read 11 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!