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Library referendum squeaks through

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According to unofficial results, Garfield County voters approved by a narrow margin Ballot Initiative 6A on Nov. 5. 

As of 10:26 p.m., the count was 6,147 for and 5,638 against.

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The measure will provide additional funding for the county library district by adding a 1.5 mill levy on property tax bills. This will supplement the sales tax revenue that funds daily operations and the 1 mill levy enacted in 2006 to fund capital improvements and property maintenance.

The increase is expected to provide about $4 million more for the 2020 fiscal year, or roughly 75 percent over estimates for the budget without the mill increase. It will also give the library district a more reliable revenue source than currently exists with the fluctuations in sales tax receipts.

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“I’m just really excited to show people what we can do, and how this will change everything for us, as a library in Carbondale and as a district,” said Carbondale Branch Manager Lacy Dunlavy. “I think it’s amazing how many people turn out for midterm elections in Colorado. We had such promising results last year with de-brucing,” which allowed the library district to keep all of the revenue received from sales taxes above the mandatory limit set by TABOR.

When asked what the short-term benefits will be, Dunlavy responded, “We can immediately get more materials, we can immediately look at our subscriptions, we can immediately get more magazines and newspapers. But what I’m really excited about is restoring our hours.” 

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She added, “That will be in the future, in 2020.” Budget cutbacks in recent years forced libraries throughout the district to reduce weekday and Saturday hours and to remain closed on Sundays.

Dunlavy continued, “An important part of being us, being Garfield County Libraries, being the Carbondale Branch, is that we really want to have great staff” — a reference to the fact that it will now be possible to hire more library personnel. 

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“So I’m really excited to get that process going, and then we can be open more and be more accessible to everyone in the community. That’s what this is all about; it’s really exciting!”

When Dunlavy was asked about when the library might be open again on Sundays, she replied, “All I can say is as soon as possible. We really need to get to work. I’m really excited to do that, and we’ll be working really hard to make [Sunday hours] a reality as soon as possible. I know that it’s a great unifying factor for all of our staff and our branches.”

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