Libraries look to towns after tax loss | VailDaily.com
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Libraries look to towns after tax loss

Scott N. Miller
Dominique Taylor/Enterprise Pre-schoolers listen during story time at the Eagle Library in Eagle. After failure of a tax increase Tuesday, the library system will now look to other sources for money to expand its facilities.
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EAGLE COUNTY – The plan to expand local libraries is intact, but the timetable has slowed to a crawl.When county voters rejected a tax hike proposed by the Eagle Valley Library District, they also rejected an ambitious plan to immediately expand the libraries in Avon and Eagle, and maybe build a new building in Gypsum.Now it’s time to think about other ways to get those projects done.”We have to get a new game plan,” district board member Lisa Tuthill said. “But to look at the positive, we’re going to offer great service, and keep doing what we’ve been doing.”While tax supporters had hammered hard on the prospect of expanding the libraries in Eagle and Gypsum, Tuthill said the top priority might be in Gypsum.The branch library there – which is mostly a kids’ collection, periodicals and public access computers – is in the town hall. Gypsum officials have been talking about expanding government offices into the library’s space, which means the library would have to move.”Eagle and Avon have libraries,” Tuthill said. “We were just talking about expansion there. But we want to provide a library in Gypsum.”

Gypsum voters might have to make the decision to keep a library in town.”Our path now is really quite simple,” district board President Michael Brown said. “We’ll work with the individual towns, and local governments and business. In Gypsum, for example, if they say we want to talk, we’ll work to make things happen.”That could happen several ways, Brown said. Using Gypsum as an example, Brown said voters there could be asked to approve a special tax, to be used only in Gypsum.”We could also use private donors,” Brown said. A.J. Johnson knows about making due.In the mid-1990s, Johnson, then the Eagle County Sheriff, asked voters for a tax increase to build a new, high-tech radio system for the county. Voters refused.Before asking for a tax increase to build the system all at once, Johnson had landed a couple of grants, as well as an agreement with the Eagle County commissioners to pay for the system over several years.”What the voters said was pretty clear,” Johnson said. “They said if you have money in the budget, then use that money.”

Instead of building the radio system as one project, Johnson had to build it over the course of several years, signing the last contract for the work just before he left office in early 2003.”It took a lot longer, but in some ways it was a plus,” Johnson said.Building the system over time allowed officials to put in new technology as it came along, Johnson said. “It let us adapt to the needs of what other counties and agencies were doing,” Johnson said. Whether the local library district can find the money to take care of its “to do” list remains to be seen. But, Brown said, the district is in good financial shape, and can properly handle its current needs.”I totally appreciate the voters’ decision,” Brown said. “We’ll have to find other ways to skin this cat.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.



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