Oct 17, 2022 - News

1-minute voter guide: Ballot Measure 2I increases taxes for Denver Public Library

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

The average Denver homeowner will pay an extra $4.19 a month starting in 2023 if city voters approve Ballot Measure 2I in this November's election.

Details: 2I will ask voters to approve a 1.5 increase to the mill levy property tax rate to raise an extra $36 million to support the library system's nearly 30 locations across the city.

  • After 2023, the mill levy may increase without limit to maintain existing services and meet the rising demand for additional services, library officials say.

Context: Unlike some other municipalities, which fund their libraries through dedicated property taxes, Denver's library system is funded through the city's discretionary general fund.

Zoom in: The property tax increase would support higher pay for librarians and staff — many of whom earn below-market wages.

  • The funding would also improve the library's technology resources, expand and diversify collections and programing, open libraries on nights and weekends, and enhance safety.

What they're saying: Proponents argue the property tax increase is necessary because funding for the library has not kept up with growing demand.

  • A properly funded library can level the playing field by providing access to resources and technology needed in Denver's underserved communities, they say.

The other side: No organized opposition group has formed, and no written comments against the measure were submitted in the city's printed ballot information booklet.

  • However, some critics have questioned whether it's the right time to raise taxes amid inflation pressures, and others argue the city's general fund could cover library staff's requests.
  • The unrestricted ability to increase taxes in the future also raises eyebrows.
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