Moffat County commissioners approve mill levy ballot measure for November
CRAIG — It’s official.
During a special meeting Thursday, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to add a measure to the November ballot to help fund the Moffat County Library and the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
Before the vote, Commissioner Ray Beck offered background about the budgetary cuts that led to the need for the ballot measure, saying that declining revenues are something commissioners cannot ignore. He added that steps have already been taken to increase revenue and asserted the county needs to continue pursuing new sources of revenue.
In the meantime, however, action needed to be taken to reduce expenditures, Beck said, leading to difficult decisions that significantly cut the budgets of both the library and the museum.
In light of these cuts — which jeopardized the continued operation of both institutions — a Citizens Task Force was formed earlier this year to brainstorm ideas that might help the county with its funding difficulties, particularly with regard to the library and museum. After four meetings, the task force recommended putting before voters a dedicated mill levy to fund the two entities.
“In addition to ensuring the future of these two departments, this will help the county avoid deficit spending,” Beck said.
If approved by voters, Beck said, the mill levy would give Moffat County the comfort of knowing both the library and museum will continue as valuable assets in the community.
The ballot question asks voters whether to enact a 2.85 percent mill levy dedicated solely to the library and the museum. The increase would generate up to $1.2 million annually, beginning in tax year 2018 and to be collected in 2019. The money is to be divided proportionally, with 64 percent going to the library and 36 percent going to the museum.
According to a news release from Paul Knowles, assistant director of the museum, the estimated dollar amounts are roughly $400,000 per year for the museum and $700,000 per year for the library. This equates to about $41 per year — or $3.42 per month — for the average $200,000 residence
“Both the museum and library sat down to determine budget numbers that would allow us to survive, while at the same time remain effective institutions that our community can take pride in,” Knowles said in the news release. “What these budgets do are allow us to keep our doors open, pay our staff and bills, provide up-to-date programming/exhibits, purchase essential equipment and maintain our buildings as needed. They will also enable us to restore the library’s operating hours.”
Community Task Force member Doug Winters said he thinks commissioners made the correct decision, saying the library and museum are essential resources to the county.
“If Craig and Moffat County, as a whole, want to attract people to come to this area to live here, we need these services,” Winters said. “I believe this is the right thing to do.”
Contact David Tan at 970-876-1795 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.