There has been no increase to the Library District’s mil levy since its inception twenty-one years ago. Things have changed significantly over the years including property tax values, rising costs, and the overall expectation of traditional and contemporary library services. The hourly wage for librarians in 1995 was $5.50 per hour, internet and wi-fi usage was unheard of inside library buildings and library books and materials were rarely shared outside the County. The idea of an online library user was unimaginable.
The economic recession, beginning in 2008, quickly impacted property values in Grand County with the consequent loss to library revenues. Anticipating that property taxes would continue to fall, the Library Board approved a rainy day fund of $600,000 called the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). The ESF was created from savings realized in the 2010 - 2011 budget year. It was anticipated that the economy would begin to recover by 2015 and the Fund would be sufficient to maintain District operations for four years, 2012 - 2015.
From 2010 - 2013 reduced library revenues were offset by downsizing and streamlining library staff and services. Predictions of an additional loss of property tax revenues for 2014 prompted the GCLD Board to seek voter approval of a 2013 ballot measure for an increased mil levy. The mil levy proposal failed.
In 2014, with the ESF running low and chances of a revenue increase through the mil levy out of the question, the Library District was forced to reduce spending by cutting library staff by 35% and administrative staff by 51%. Adult, youth and early education programming, customer service and open hours in all the branches were negatively impacted.
The ESF was supplemented in 2014 - 2015 through the restructuring of the debt on the Granby and Grand Lake libraries and the settlement of a legal action. Although property tax revenues were still declining, the Board estimated that the injections of funds into the ESF would supplement GCLD spending until 2019. The 2016 budget draws $200,000 from the ESF.
The news from the Henderson Mill in March 2016 forced the Library Board to reconsider their financial plans.