Durango, CO: City and county residents overwhelmingly support creating a taxing district that would fund the Durango Public Library, according to a survey of 465 city and county residents.
City councilors and county commissioners were presented with the data at a quarterly meeting among elected officials Monday. The city and county are investigating the formation of a district that voters would ultimately have to approve.
The 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, which would be funded through a 3.65-mill property tax increase of approximately $180 on a $700,000 home. The next step is for city and county staff to seek out an advisory group to begin planning for placing the measure on an upcoming ballot, drafting a timeline for the process, community outreach, and for the county to investigate potential ballot language.
With the exception of city councilor Olivier Bosmans, all city and county officials supported asking voters whether they would approve a property tax increase to fund the district. Officials said it would produce a more stable source of funding and potentially would allow using the current library funding from the city-county joint sales tax for other purposes, such as housing. Bosmans opposed the effort, saying it was not beneficial to the community if property taxes are raised by approximately $180 per year on homeowners.
In other topics discussed Monday:
- County staff are analyzing the results of a survey conducted in 2022 regarding the programs and services offered by the Durango-La Plata Senior Center, which is funded in part through the joint city-county sales tax. County Manager Chuck Stevens said although there have been some questions posed about building a new senior facility, the focus right now is on the services and programs offered by the center. “A new building is not imminent,” he said.
- The Durango-La Plata Airport is preparing to start construction in April on its terminal development program. Passenger traffic at the terminal facility has more than doubled since the terminal was built in 1988. The only addition was a 4,500-square-foot fabric structure in 2013 that was intended to be temporary, and baggage screening operations in 2019. Other key deficiencies at the airport include an improperly sized Transportation and Security Administration screening checkpoint, undersized boarding gates and undersized restrooms. A phased development is scheduled to begin in April and will last into early 2024. No local taxpayer dollars are being used for the planned $36 million upgrades through 2026. Instead, the funds are projected to be provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the airport’s revenue received from airlines, and potentially some airport financing.
- The planned annexation of land along approximately 2.75 miles of La Posta Road for residential and commercial development is moving forward and will potentially add nearly 2,000 housing units and 3,000 residents to the city of Durango. “There’s a lot of alignment among elected officials,” said Scott Shine, director of the city’s community development department. “Everyone says this makes sense and let’s move forward.” The city and county are spearheading the project by helping to set up the infrastructure framework for development to ensure it benefits the public, while supporting private investment. Some of the key infrastructure concerns included assurances from the South Durango Sanitation District there is adequate capacity to handle the annexation. Shine said some of the rural landowners have expressed concern about the proposed changes, but the plan is to implement in phases. Next steps include a final neighborhood meeting in February, a planning commission public hearing in March and a city council public hearing in April.
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