Just what we need, another level of government in the form of a self-taxing district. Denver Post writer Jeremy Meyer reported this week that the Denver Library Commission is strongly recommending Denver libraries become their own district, even though it's a move the libraries have been thinking about for almost a year.
From Meyer's write up:
The commission today unanimously approved the resolution — a public demand that would divorce the library from the city's general fund. The request would have to be approved by Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver's City Council before going to the voters in November.
…A request to become a district would also come with a property tax hike of at least $71 a year on a $224,000 home, which would allow branches to be open 40 hours a week and 56 hours at the Central Library. [Peak emphasis]
Few people who have the time and inclination to pay attention to what's happening with their county and city level governments, and even fewer actually pay attention to what happens at the district level. Yet, the power that these districts can exert in terms of policy and taxation can be surprisingly large.
Denver libraries are currently an item of the city budget, but with the autonomy of their own district the library budget couldn't be cut by the city. Denver libraries instead would have a dedicated funding source straight from the taxpayers.
According to the Special District Association of Colorado (yes, the district government structure even has its own association) the number of library districts in the state increased from 48 in 2005 to 54 by 2010.
Municipal budgets across the state have been slashed as a result of the economy, and merely taking current city services out from under the city budget and creating a new taxation district is not the solution. It will merely increase the burden to Denver taxpayers who are already feeling the pain on ever-increasing gas and food prices.
What's the likelihood the City of Denver would cut taxes to citizens by a corresponding amount to that raised by the new district? Next to zero.