Boulder Library District
Ballot Measure 6C
Keep Our Libraries
What does it mean to keep Boulder's library system under award-winning management?
Continued support of our nationally recognized libraries
No additional property taxes
City facilities stay with the city
Continued collaboration among the library system, the city, and
Vote NO on 6C,
oppose the Boulder Library District
and Property Tax
What is the Library District?
When a city library system is converted into a library district, the library becomes its own governmental entity, separate from the city, with taxing authority. Good analogies are the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and the Regional Transit District (RTD). In Boulder, this means the library would split from the city's Library Department and become an entity wholly separate from the city of Boulder. The new district would be funded by a property tax increase imposed across not only the city of Boulder, but also Gunbarrel and portions of unincorporated Boulder County, which are within the district boundaries. Unlike BVSD or RTD, whose boards are elected by--and accountable to--voters, a new library district would be managed by an appointed board.
How much will Measure 6C increase my taxes?
The district will be funded by a 3.5 mill property tax levy increase applied to all properties within the proposed district boundaries. For properties within the city of Boulder, this equates to an annual increase of 4% or $23 per $100,000 of a residential property's value and $92 per $100,000 of commercial property's value. Property owners in the city limits may see a lower increase than property owners in the county. This is because city residents already pay a small property tax levy for the library. Though this tax may be eliminated during the election, the creation of a library district will still increase property taxes within the city by more than 10 times the current dedicated library tax. County residents will see a 10% increase in their tax bill. This increase could have an outsized impact on homeowners, renters, and small businesses.
What will happen to the taxes now used to fund the Boulder library?
Currently, a majority of the library's $9.18 million in operating funding is paid through sales taxes, nearly half of which are, in turn, paid by visitors to Boulder. If a new library property tax of $18.78 million (paid only by local residents and businesses) is approved, the sales tax won't go away. The city will simply apply it to other uses. Thus, taxes in these two areas will go from $9.18 million today, to $28 million in the future.
What will be the new Library District budget?
The increased property tax bill will provide a new library district an annual budget of about $18.78 million. To put this into perspective, the city's current library operating budget is only about $9.18 million, so a new property tax would more than double taxpayers' contribution. What will the new library district do with this extra about $9.6 million per year in tax money? We're not sure. But, with this kind of money, the library district could afford to build a new branch every two years and still keep all the libraries running at their current level and have money left over. And as property values grow, so too will the library budget.
Hasn't the city adequately funded the library?
The library's operating budget has actually grown faster than that of many city departments and services. In 2016, the library's operating budget was $7.7 million, growing to $8.7 million in 2019 and to $9.18 million today. The 2023 city budget calls for a library budget of $11.1 million, a 21% increase over this year, and a 44% increase over the last seven years. By comparison, the increases in the 2023 budgets for the city's police and fire departments are 4% and 6% respectively.
What will happen to the library assets?
We don’t know. All the library facilities and library assets would become managed by the library district, but the city, the district, and possibly the county would have to negotiate the donation, sale, or lease of the city’s properties after the vote to create the district.
Who will lead the Library District?
None of the library district leaders will be elected…ever.
The leadership will initially be appointed by the Boulder County Commissioners and Boulder City Council. After those first appointments, the board members will be appointed according to an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Boulder County Commissioners and Boulder City Council that will be developed after the election. We do not know the details of the appointment process. This makes the library district unlike other districts, such as the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), whose board members are elected by the voters.
This means voters would never again have a direct voice in how that outsized library budget is managed. The library district would have no accountability.