Moving on: Library district public hearing. Here's the presentation:…
I didn't take many notes, since I've covered this so extensively in the past and not much has changed. You can catch up here:…
Why are we here? Advocates of the library (including former commissioners) contend it has been historically and wildly under-funded. Unlike some city services (OSMP) nearly all the library's budget comes from discretionary $$.
That means it gets heavy cuts in hard times. (Like now, which isn't the best example, bc it also had to close, unlike most city services).

But still, it gets short shrift, advocates say. They have good data to back this up.
So the idea is to make the library its Own Thing by creating a district. Like RTD or other special taxing districts.

That way, the main source of revenue goes from sales tax (which fluctuates with the economy) to property tax (more stable).
And it would no longer be up to the city to decide how much $$ the library gets.

In that way, they could not only catch up on $2.3M of deferred maintenance, but also expand services the community wants (like Gunbarrel and Niwot branches).
The city could retain ownership of the buildings and all the materials, and just lease them to the district. Or they could sell them (v unlikely).

Still, the loss of control has been a major sticking point for city council.
Not one that I totally understand. To me, this is purely a question for the voters: Do you wanna pay more (but less than you would if the library was fully funded, bc out-of-city residents will also pay) for more library, or the same/slightly more for less library?
Either way, ppl will have to pay at least a bit more to keep the same library services they had pre-pandemic. It's not like there's an option that's pay the same, stay the same.
So anyway, council has to decide whether or not to form a district, which they can do by resolution. The funding part of this won't happen until 2022.
If council *doesn't* form a district, there is a group ready to go with a petition. They held off in 2019 when council vowed to make library funding/district discussion a priority.
So how under-funded is the library?
Should we talk numbers? Let's talk numbers.
Current funding is $11.2M; estimates for a fully funded library (including service expansion) is $21.8M total

So funding gap of $10.6M. Let's break that down further.
2021 budget
General Fund: $6.4M
Library Fund: $1.4M
Administrative overhead/ Cost Allocation: $3.4M
Total: $11.2M
Meet community service level of funding (so, what's un or under-funded now, compared to normal operating)
COVID budget gap: $1.3M
NoBo operating budget: $1M
NoBo one-time capital: $1.8M
Deferred capital maintenance: $2.3M
Total: $17.6M
So even if we *don't* want extra library services, just catching up is ~$6M more than we're *currently* spending.
To get to Service Expansion level is an extra $4.2M annually (77% operating, 23% capital)
How much, exactly, the district tax would be is still TBD. Could be 3.53-3.85 mills which = $194-$214 per year per $850K of value on a city of Boulder home. ($234 for a comparable home outside city limits)
IF the district would stick to ONLY city limits (which would be stupid and defeat the purpose of bringing more users into the fold of paying for library) it would be $257 per year per $850K of home value.
A pretty good chunk of library users don't live in the city of Boulder, hence the desire to make a larger district. Spread the funding burden around.
Anyway, that's the basics. Council has gotten really in the weeds on this, sticking to the Hows rather than the Whys / Should We's.
Yates talking about community engagement. There WAS a survey in 2019. I thought it was kinda sketch, personally (so did some on council, including Yates) tho it has been roundly defended.…
And Boulder does love them some taxes:…
Yates: If council does direct moving forward, would that include public engagement to gauge support?
David Gehr: Yes.
Yates: Are we telling them to do a district, or to tell us what's the best way to provide stable funding for a library?
Gerh: We were thinking of doing a district.
I should mention the city *could* do another dedicated property tax for the library (it has a tiny bit of one now, that is like 1% of their budget) but again, doesn't make a ton of sense when you could spread the costs out over more people.
But, again, council loath to give up control to a district, which would govern the library via a board.
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 6
Wallach asks about looping in county commissioners. They don't have much to do with this except for rubber stamping it; their approval is needed, but as Gehr says, they're not really interested and they'll do what the city wants.
Wallach: We've gotten a lot of grousing about property values / taxes this year. How accurate is it to use an $850K home value as the example?

Median prices passed $1.5M recently, though assessed values are NOT the same as sales price.…
Gehr: It's the measure we were using all along (this process started 2-3 years ago) but we could prob update it.
Wallach: Once there's a library district, can they raise taxes again? Are there any limits other than the will of the voters?
Gehr: They would have the authority to do that and they would have to comply with voter authority set forth in TABOR.
Nagle: What if residents reject the district and a tax?
Gerh: It would require the city to look at a dif revenue mix. Property tax is just one. "We have the status quo option, which is the library would be funded through a balance of interests, with everything in the GF."
GF = General Fund, the discretionary pot of $$ that pays for police, fire, library, some transportation, some parks & rec, and so much else.
Nagle: How would this impact lower-income residents?
Gehr: When you raise taxes, it comes out of somebody's pocket. It's another expense for property owners, which means landlords could pass those costs along to renters.
Friend asking about the history of this push for a district. Library Director David Farnan going over that: Petition first presented in 2019 (much study ahead of that, tho) then pulled when council promised to take the issue up.
This public hearing was supposed to happen in 2020, but COVID.
Taking a 10-min break before the public hearing, which has 40 speakers.

40 * 3 min each = 120 min, 2 hrs. Give or take a few.
Take. It's only ever take.

Time from my day, years from my life. They take and take.
I'm being told people are dropping off. Also, that it's my job to sit through these things.

I KNOW that ya'll. I have committed to doing it; I never committed to not also whining about it.
Julia Hanke, our first speaker, is from unincorporated Gunbarrel and would gladly be taxed to support the library. "Let the voters decide."
Gina McAfee: 30% of library cardholders — including herself — live outside city limits.

"I would like to be a part of the community of voters who gets to decide on long-term, sustainable funding for the library I and my neighbors need so much."
This is the 7th council meeting on library funding in the last 3 years, Joni Teter says. She's with the group pushing for a district, Boulder Library Champions, and a previous library commissioner.
"That budget hole is not going away," Teter says. "Boulder's days of double-digit sales tax increases are long gone. ... We need additional revenues to fund services."
True on that last part. In fact, next week's study session is a look at ways Boulder can raise new/more revenue.

Which brings me to another point I wanted to make earlier.
Since Boulder is already spending $11.2M on the library, would it get that money "back" if a district is created/funded?

The city would, yes, but not likely the taxpayers. It would free up some $$ for other things.
How much is still being debated (kinda). Bc there is some overhead expenses that aren't exactly 1-for-1 (though the city felt ~$3M was good estimate). Things like HR, legal services, etc.
The city could charge the district for those, of course, or just keep providing them. But either way, a few million $$ would be freed up in the budget for other stuff.

You wouldn't see a refund or anything; just (hopefully) better roads or whatever council decides to do.
Which is a political consideration, of course. Here's another plea from me to please pay attention to the budgeting process. It's important, ya'll.
Back to the public hearing.

"Why are we wasting our time on this again?" Nicole Perelman says. The Library Commission said 3 years ago this was the best idea for the future of the library.
"Just put it before the voters, let us vote and figure it out," Perelman says. "Please stop wasting our time and yours."
Joanne Sullivan: Our homeschool curriculum requires a ton of books; I couldn't afford to buy them all. The library had 95% of them.
Timothy Williams: "The library's future is not current sustainable, neither is Boulder's budget."
Boulder's library district advocates HAVE produced some of the best looks at / info on Boulder's long-term spending and budget woes. I would argue they've pushed that convo forward substantially.
I mean, I would expect nothing less than solid data and research from library folk.
Fun fact about me: I served on the Teen Advisory Board to the Ross County Library in high school.

I was obviously extremely popular.
Up to speaker No. 12 and so far all support for a district. I'll let ya'll know if/when that changes. Haven't really heard much opposition to this in the past 2 years, aside from council. But I assume they must be getting it somewhere.
Andy Sayler: A district board of trustees would be drawn from a wider base of people, and would better represent the community (and the library) than council.
Ohhh Tina Hinh is a documentary producer. HMU, Tina. I got some ideas for ya.
Hinh: "I love that I can see so many people I might not encounter in my regular life here" (at the library). "Shared spaces matter. The library matters."
Hinh also making a good point about the prevalence of library districts in Colorado. There are several dozen; they're quite common across the U.S. as well.
Alicia Seidle (or Gibb; name is dif on the Zoom than the list): "The thing I missed the most during the pandemic was the library. ... I love paying taxes. Taxes make our society run. Please, let me pay taxes for my library."
I thought Nathan Seidle was going to be our first opponent when he talked about how much his biz (SparkFun) pays in property tax, but then he hit us with "I would LOVE to pay more" for a library district.
This is also the quietest group of public speakers we've ever had at Boulder city council. I keep having to turn up my volume. Very soft speakers.
Claudia Hanson Thiem: "This is no way to treat the heart of our community."
"To me, an investment in my community for $200-$300 a year is a strong investment," says Donna George, of Gunbarrel.
Speaker No. 30 and no opponents so far (unless I missed one, which is entirely possible).

Also, I don't think it's actually been 30 bc a few ppl dropped off. But still.
First-time public speaker Caitlin McQuade (yay, we love first-time speakers!): There is not a single place in Boulder where I have felt a greater place of belonging that is so diverse.
"The heart of a library beats in service to a free and civil society," McQuade says. "Please, do whatever you can" to ensure the future of the library. "Even if it means letting someone else take control."
I couldn't remember if there were 37 or 57 library districts in Colorado. (Been searching my notes for an hour to try and find it). Then Steven Frost said there were "nearly 60" in the state, so I'mma say 57...?

Still looking in my notes, tho. Gotta fact check.
Or I could just Google it. I haven't found it yet, but I found this report from 2002(!) comparing funding of Colorado's library districts vs. municipally funded libraries.…
Sorry, 2003.
Omgosh, there it is right in my own story that I linked to earlier: 57 library districts in Colorado.…
This is the problem with issues that drag on for years. So hard to go through the pages and pages of notes and stories.
Anyway, up to the last speaker (Eric Budd, No. 37) and no opponents. Unanimous support for a district tonight.
Oh, jk. I must have an old list. We got some more folks.
Budd said: "It's a travesty for me at a time when the budget is under so much pressure" we got a decision from you all to increase funding for police while "our libraries remain closed and people can't get those services."
Jane Sykes Wilson: This is the third library commission that has recommended this to council. Listen to them; they've looked into it, deeply.
Very touched by all the parents talking about how much their kids love the library. And I'm pretty ambivalent about kids; I certainly don't want any.

But I remember being a kid who also loved the library. As a poor kid, it was one of the few free things we could do.
I was always in the summer reading program. I loved every second, every book I read.
Looks like we're up to our second-to-last speaker now, which puts the total at around 40. I didn't hear any opposition, but I spent a lot of time hunting around my notes, so it's possible I missed a stray person.
I'm told a "kind voiced gentleman" and Lynn Segal were opposed. Out of 40-some speakers.
And the kind-voiced gentleman was merely concerned; he supported the library and funding, but property taxes are already high.
Thanks to all the readers who emailed me lists and tweeted info, counts and corrections. News is a community endeavor :)
Friend: "I just deeply trust library folks. They're telling us forming a district by resolution is the best thing we can do for libraries. ... Let's get moving and let voters decide."
Weaver: Staff isn't suggesting we form a district by resolution tonight. (Just suggesting moving down that path.)
Brockett: I agree with everything Friend said (Basically: Libraries = good. Let's get it done.) "The experts in this are all telling us" a district is the best way to go. Three commissions have recommended this, and the Library Foundation.
"And 100% of our speakers tonight were in favor," Brockett says. So maybe the kind-voiced gentleman was as well.
It was very encouraging to hear users who live outside the city being willing to be taxed, Brockett says. "I hope we move forward on it expeditiously. It is a well-worn pathway."
Nagle a bit confused about what, exactly, council is being asked. (Tbh, me as well. I could barely tell what was being asked by reading the packet.)
But there are two options before them: Prepare a funding question for voters to form a district OR form a district by resolution. (Voters would still have to OK funding.)
But in that case, the governing body of the newly created district would be the ones writing the ballot measure question for funding, not council.
Nagle: Can we have a vote first to see if people really want a district? I know we just heard everyone for it, "but I've heard so much against it, too. "
Who are these people? Please email or call me! In the many council meetings on the library, I have not heard opposition. But it's obviously out there (and contacting council).
Swetlik: Is there any way to maintain the library property as owned by the city, even if there is a district?
Yes, Gehr says (we've been over this before). It can be a long-term lease arrangement, a sale, a gift. Up to you.
An Intergovernmental Agreement between the district and city would spell all that out.

Gehr: In every case I'm aware of, cities either gift the property or do some sort of lease. There's one case where a city sold property at a fair market value.
I have the fair market value of library buildings somewhere in my notes...
Wallach: "I appreciate all the speakers tonight. I want to point out that there isn't anybody who is against libraries. ... To me, that's not the only issue."
"I still think there are a number of questions that need to be answered," Wallach says.
Staff weighing in on timing of the district formation / tax question to voters. Council already decided in February (I thought) that the tax measure wouldn't happen until 2022, so I'm a bit confused. But maybe this is about work to form a district.
"We don't have a good feel for what the time commitment would be," Kara Skinner, of the finance dept, says.
Wallach: "I understand your impatience with this. One speaker said just do it. That's a great sports slogan, but I'm not sure it's a good methodology for governance."
I mean, he told ya'll this when he ran for council.…
Kim Seter, a library district expert: The real cost to the city would come in when you need to transition assets, etc. But that wouldn't come in until after an election for funding.
Weaver: Wouldn't some of these things need to be known before a TABOR vote?
Seter: Yes, in a conceptual way.
Weaver: Why does it usually take more than 90 days to get an IGA worked out? If it's as simple as you describe, I would think the IGA would be a cookie-cutter piece.
Seter: You take time to inventory assets and employees. So you know what you're transitioning.
I feel like this has already been done...
Friend: It seems like we always hear that staff time is always stretched kind of thin. Might there be outsourcing no matter when we choose to do this?
"Time is also staff money," Friend says. If we decide to slow it down and have another meeting like this one ... that costs the organization real dollars."
VERY fair. One of the reasons I struggle to cover this is we've been talking about the same shit for the last 2 years. Very little new information, at all.
Council keeps saying we need to work out details but... they never get to the working part. We just keep going over the same stuff.
Weaver: I do want to proceed with the district pathway. More inclined to do a district via resolution, but not by October. By summer of next year, followed by a tax measure on the 2022 ballot.
Wallach echoes that: "I want to get it in front of the electorate."
Nagle still a bit confused. (I was, but I've caught up.)
Gehr: The main difference in pursuing this for next year is "there would be more community engagement before you took action on a resolution" (to form a district).
That's the Option B that Weaver and Wallach are talking about.
And Young; she's on board for that.
I feel like council is confused; they keep talking like putting a funding measure to voters this year was an option, but they decided in February not to do that until 2022! Maybe I'm the one who is confused...
"I would like to see better outreach and get a better read on the electorate as well," Young says, throwing shade at the 2019 survey.
Yates on the same page: We have a lot of community outreach and engagement to do, and a very 5 busy months remaining. I just don't see how we could jam this in by October.
Yates: Spend the time to do the work so that, "at the moment of district formation" council and the community have a pre-approved IGA in place. The district can either say we can live with this or not.
Swetlik on board for a city resolution next year, to precede the funding vote.
Joseph: I see where the majority is heading. i would have preferred putting it on the ballot this year. What if the new council decides not to do it?

A ballot measure is good community outreach; either they vote for it or not.
"I wish we were moving faster, but I understand the constraints of time," Joseph says.
Nagle: "I hope we keep the asset of the library within our control, renting it out. ... To relinquish control is inconceivable."
Friend: "I'm more optimistic that things don't always have to be as slow as we plan it to be."
Like, if it goes faster than staff things, can they just bring it back to us early? Friend asks.
Gehr: "Anything is possible."
But the option council is going for has more community engagement, Gehr says, which this council LOVES.*

Library director, David Farnan: I believe the feedback from the February study session was that you wanted to have knowledge on the contents of the IGA. And to form a committee.

Is *that* what you want staff to work on? The draft of an IGA.
Farnan: I'm wondering if you are instructing us to begin that work in 2021 or to wait until 2022. If we wait, we're going to be crunched for time next year.
No one knows what's going on. Much confuse.
Weaver: What I'm supporting is a plan to have a committee seated by Dec., and they have 7 months to work out the IGA.
Brockett: I'm confused, bc Option A has a longer timeframe.
Asking that the committee be formed earlier than December, to give more time to work on the IGA.
Gehr: We can do that.
"I think Option B is more about when you do the resolution," Gehr says.
Weaver: "We're starting the process with this council."
So this year, council could recruit and seat that committee, Weaver says, after the break and "we get our feet under us."
Wallach to all the public speakers tonight: I hope you'll see the takeaway is not that we didn't pass a resolution. The takeaway is that all 9 members of council are willing to move down the path to form a district by resolution.
That WAS going to be my takeaway, but then I got confused by all the timing stuff.

Also very confused why this even had to be a public hearing if council was just directing staff to do work...
But I suppose that's what I was planning for: Council saying yay or nay to a district, with work still to be done.

The tepid support of council and discussion over timing threw me.
Yates: We received a few dozen emails from the community who were opposed. But 2-1 or 3-1 in favor.
Young: "I do think this is the way to go. I think we need to conduct more outreach that is more widespread ... the broader community the district would consist of" not just the city of Boulder.
Friend: I requested in February that we receive a staff recommendation on this, to forma district or not. Idk why we didn't get that. Given that we didn't have a recommendation, it was entirely in the scope that we could have.
We had a public hearing and everything, so we could have, Friend says.

Also says she only saw "a handful" of emails in opposition... not a dozens.
Brockett says 12-15 in opposition and 80 in support.
Yates: Some of us receive emails that don't go to the general inbox; they come just to us.
Young doesn't like that people are encouraging others to email council in favor of the district but not in opposition. That gives her pause in being swayed by supportive emails.

"I think that is cause enough to want to do our due diligence with respect to outreach."
Wallach: "It's important to get the show on the road, and that's what we're doing tonight."
Unanimous support for moving forward with a library district by resolution, which won't happen until next year, along with a funding vote.

Committee to help work out those details will be formed later this year.
@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

19 May
Quick update on the city attorney search. Tom Carr retiring in June; council will (likely) appoint Sandra Llanes as interim city attorney before the new one starts in July.
Those semi-finalists have been ID'd and are being interviewed by council (in pairs of 2) now. We should know the recommendation by next week or early June.
Llanes is a current deputy city attorney.
Read 6 tweets
19 May
New topic, new thread (though we're still on the consent agenda): Final conditions for approval of the Marpa House reuse.

Presentation describing those conditions:…
30 min have been set aside for this (10 were set aside for the budget item, but it took 25, so 30 min prob = 45 min - 1 hr)
But I've been wrong before.
Read 48 tweets
19 May
Moving on to the consent agenda, where the adjustment to base budget item is. Normally pretty routine, but as I said, this time it includes $2.7M for encampment removal.…
Brockett on why he wanted a public hearing: There are significant new expenditures on items of community interest.
"There have been some strong opinions from the community on a lot of different sides," Brockett says. "That was my primary reason for requesting that be a public hearing."
Read 39 tweets
19 May
I don't have a list of open comment speakers, so idk who we've got or why. I may tweet; I may not. I'll keep you in suspense.
Patrick Murphy complaining about the new system for displaying emails to/from city council (which are public record). I agree; I didn't think it possible for the old one to get worse, but somehow, they did it.
So far, mostly Marpa House neighbors. As I said (earlier tonight and on KGNU yesterday) tonight's vote is likely a formality. Council just giving final OK to stuff they already discussed / voted on.
Read 7 tweets
19 May
Alright, our second monthly COVID briefing. Again, not sure why, since we just had one. Maybe they'll say.

Presentation here:…
Maybe bc we moved into Level Clear on Sunday, and ended our local mask mandate...?
Lexi Nolen, director of BoCo Public Health, with some good news: Boulder County has passed 70% of the adult population vaccinated.
Read 24 tweets
18 May
Another Tuesday, another #Boulder city council meeting.

Tonight: A second COVID briefing (not sure why, since we had one last week)
Public hearing on forming a library district
Final votes on Marpa House and appropriating $2.7M in new spending to remove encampments.
Those last two are really formalities, since council already voted on the substance of them. Both items are on the consent agenda, which mean they normally wouldn't even be discussed, but a few minutes have been set aside for each.
30 min for Marpa and 10-15 (can't remember) for the budget item. Councilman Aaron Brockett asked for a public hearing on the appropriation of $$; I guess this was the compromise.
Read 4 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!