Jul 14, 2022 - News

Denver Public Library wants dedicated $30M funding

The Denver Public Library signage on the Burnham F. Hoyt Rotunda. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Denver voters may decide this November whether to raise property taxes by more than $30 million annually for investments in the city's public library system.

Driving the news: The city's head librarian, Michelle Jeske, asked a city council committee this week to include a question on the ballot requesting a 1.5 mill increase to the mill levy property tax rate to help meet Denver's growing demands.

  • The tax hike would direct $31.6 million to the library every year, costing the average Denver homeowner $4.19 a month, per city documents.
  • The new cash stream would afford higher pay for staff who currently earn below-market wages, improve the library's technology resources, expand and diversify collections and programing, and open libraries on nights and weekends, Jeske said.
  • Library officials also say that among 700 likely voters recently polled, 69% backed the plan.

State of play: Council members appear divided on the proposal.

  • Member Kendra Black, for example, tells Axios Denver that she has requested more information about the breakdown of the library's budget before agreeing to move forward.
  • Other local leaders, like council members Amanda Sawyer and Jolon Clark, are in full support.

What they're saying: "During the pandemic we were reminded just how critical a role our libraries play for the folks who need it most," Clark told Axios Denver. "We cannot afford to wait to fully fund these critical community hubs and the services they provide."

Yes, but: From the gas pump to the grocery store, Coloradans are combatting climbing costs, and it remains to be seen whether voters will have an appetite to spend more this fall.

What's next: A formal ordinance will be presented to a council committee in the coming weeks, with a public hearing planned in August, the Denver Post reports.

  • Council members would need to pass an ordinance before September for a question to make the November ballot.

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