The city of Durango, in partnership with La Plata County, is investigating the possibility of forming a library district.
The demand for library services continues to grow. There are close to 33,000 library card holders. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Durango Public Library saw nearly 382,000 patrons personally visit the library. In calendar years 2020/21, electronic use of the library has witnessed nearly double-digit increases. However, despite that increased use, the library's budget is near reliant on sales tax. Sustaining this funding stream has proven challenging and unpredictable, especially during the height of the pandemic. These factors have resulted in reducing library operating hours and services, in addition to continued increases in support from the city's general funds. Creating a library district is considered as a possible option for stabilizing the library’s budget and potentially providing greater services. A survey, conducted in fall 2022 by Public Advisory Group out of Ketchum, Idaho, showed 70% of respondents in the city and county favored the creation of the district (see "Surveys" tab for more information).
For most library districting efforts, generally there are two professionally developed and administered studies done to measure the community's feel toward establishing and funding a district. One study is often referred to as a fiscal analysis, while the other is generally known as the feasibility study. The fiscal analysis focuses on financial aspects and options involved in creating and sustaining an independent library district, while the feasibility study is a professionally conducted poll to determine the community's interest in supporting a library district.
The financial analysis should be complete by the end of 2021 and distributed in early 2022. A feasibility study will rely on the projections from the financial analysis. If the projections look favorable, a Request for Proposals for a feasibility study will be released in early 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, you've heard something about a library district in Durango. Here's a few of the most common Q&A's:
What is a Library District?
A library district is a political subdivision of the State of Colorado, and in this case would be created by the City of Durango and La Plata County. The district would be funded by dedicated property tax revenues. Voters within the district boundaries would have to approve any new or increased tax to fund the library district. The district would be governed by a board of trustees or library board, appointed by the City Council and County Commissioners.
How is the Durango Library presently operated and funded?
The library is owned and operated by the City of Durango and is primarily funded by revenue from the City/County Joint Sales Tax Fund.
Are there other library districts in Colorado?
There are approximately 60 public library districts in Colorado. Some of the more recognizable locations include the Poudre River Public Library District serving Fort Collins, and the Pikes Peak Public Library District serving Colorado Springs. Boulder and Denver are examining creation of a public library district. There are three existing library districts in La Plata County: Pine River serving the Bayfield area, Southwest/La Plata Library and the Ignacio Community Public Library District.
What areas would a library district in Durango cover?
Bayfield and Ignacio are already served by their own library districts, so a library district here would likely be composed of the City of Durango and the remainder of La Plata County.
Tell me more about the library board.
A library board would be appointed by the City Council and County Commissioners. The board’s powers and duties are specified in the “Library Law,” Colorado Revised Statutes 24-90-109. The library board appropriates its funding and has full governing and decision-making authority for the library.
Since a library district is funded primarily through property taxes, how much of a tax increase would a local property owner likely see?
An increase in property tax is based on the mill rate. Two professionally conducted surveys will need to be done before a mill rate would be recommended. The first is a feasibility study of representative sample-sized group of Durango and impacted La Plata property owners to measure their disposition toward an increase. The second survey is a fiscal analysis of current and long-range financial requirements to establish a library district. We anticipate those studies would start in early 2022.
What impact would a library district have on the facility and staff?
Those issues would be identified and addressed in the Fiscal Analysis.
When could an election take place to create a library district?
A ballot measure to create a library district is restricted to November elections only. This is required under rules set by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which requires elections involving revenue issues to be presented at November general elections and not special elections.