More on the Windsor Library Mill Levy

I wanted to share some more thoughts that I composed on the NextDoor discussion regarding the Clearview Library District Mill Levy proposal. People brought up some great points about whether we need to build the new library now and why the library can’t finance it out of the current taxes they receive.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t understand how Libraries are funded, but let’s assume that a portion of their funding of their $2.6m operating budget comes from our taxes, and that revenue may have increased over the years due to additional growth. Even then, we’re still talking about operational budget.

I don’t know how your household works, but if you’re a homeowner, chances are that you didn’t purchase your house outright with 100% cash. If my family was expected to save for the complete value of our home using only my operational budget, it would take a lot longer than 30 years for me to buy my home – and by the time I could afford it, my kids would be grown and we’d be too old to manage a house the size that we needed back when our family was young.

Good thing we have mortgages, where the bank takes a chance on us and assumes I can make incremental payments out of our operational budget for the next 30 years, making a return on their investment through interest.  We’re able to benefit because we can buy the house that fits our needs now (although I’d recommend buying the house you need 5-10 years from now, if you can afford it – but that’s another post).

While the Mill Levy is not a mortgage loan, it enables the financing to construct needed facilities now, rather than 20 years from now, 10 years too late. Rather than getting interest payments, the community benefits by being able to use the new modern facilities now, rather than having to wait 20 years (imagine if the bank said they’d forgo interest in exchange for being able to regularly use your home).

People raise valid points when they examine current needs and weigh them against priorities, wondering if we should wait until the need becomes more evident. However, we’ve already seen how this played out in how we’ve deferred I-25 and I-70 improvements – and now look at how terrible traffic has become. I wish I could go back in time 10 years and convince younger me to fervently push for an Interstate train, or at least more northern lane expansion between Johnstown and Fort Collins. Now it almost seems like too-little, too late.

One last thing to consider: that proposed area of land, once on the outskirts of Windsor, is really the last opportunity for us to have a centrally-located library. The current location is land-locked, and the architecture doesn’t support vertical expansion, without starting anew. We have an opportunity now to choose what’s going on that proposed plot of land. It’s prime real estate, and something is going to be built on it – are you sure you’ll be happier with what’s built there over a library?

Windsor’s Library Mill Levy

The Clearview Library District in my town of Windsor has recently announced that they’re seeking a Mill Levy increase in this November’s ballot. As you can imagine, this has generated a significant amount of discussion and debate within the community, reflected in sites like NextDoor. I wanted to my thoughts I recently posted on that site, in response to people who were considering voting against this measure because of dissatisfaction with how the library is run, or it’s current conflict with their own needs.

I would really encourage people to not make this mill levy a referendum on your current view of the library or its management, but rather what you want Windsor to stand for, as well as the roles libraries have in providing access to knowledge, resources and serving as a community space.

It’s easy to forget just how many resources are offered by libraries, I didn’t realize the value until I had kids of my own. With two girls under 5, it’s important for them to have space for them to interact with other kids, have stories read to them, and to be able to discover new books and learning tools. We do our best to enforce proper library etiquette, but kids at play are not always quiet. it’s become apparent that space has become an issue and that town growth has outpaced the current capacity.  To those that are upset by the children: what alternative do you have aside from more space or a better design?

I hate to break it to you, but Windsor is going to continue to grow. We can either put our heads in the sand and complain, or acknowledge the growth and take a civic role in shaping our community.  Citizens – namely children – are going to need places to gather. You can choose whether it’s going to be at a welcoming place that has the space to accommodate them, or be forced to choose somewhere else that invites trouble.

The Mill Levy isn’t about what’s going on right now, it’s about what’s going to happen in the next decade. You can either play checkers with your ballot, or play chess and think a few moves ahead  – I’m sure you can use the library to help up your game.

Since then, a healthy debate has formed in the discussion of this topic. While people obviously disagree, it does sound like many do believe we’re in need of a new library, but question whether a Mill Levy is the appropriate fund-raising avenue.  There were questions as to whether a Sales Tax increase would be a more fair taxation. I actually got clarification on the taxation issue, learning that the Library District isn’t supported by the city/town municipality and thus does not have access to sales tax revenue. It’s actually considered a state entity and like many public schools, can only receive funding through Mill Levy increases.

Fair points have been raised as to whether Mill Levy’s punish small businesses by requiring their owners to pay twice, with the commercial assessment being far greater than personal property.  I do agree that there should be a debate and exploration as to whether Mill Levy’s taxation on businesses should be re-examined, but also must acknowledge that all citizens – not just business owners – carry the burden of taxation.  It’s not like this is a cigarette tax or sin tax, it’s affirming that the entire community is committing to something that will better our town.  We shouldn’t avoid building the house just because we only have hammers in our toolbox, but let’s see if we can refine our tools.

Clara’s First Day of School!

I know it’s cliche to say that these kids are growing up too quickly, but it’s really quite remarkable just how true that is.

Today Clara started pre-school at her elementary school, and she couldn’t be more proud or excited. Ever since the kids in her daycare have started school, Clara’s been keenly interested in school. At home she’ll often pack her backpack and proclaim that she’s off to school, then going to her room and enacting a school day.  We’ve often had to curtail her ambition about starting school, reminding her it was a ways off.

That day has finally come, and while her early childhood has been a joyous journey, this did still manage to take us by surprise. Clara’s grown into a confident and articulate little girl, and that really became self-evident when she sat right down at her little table and started working on her art project. Bethany and I waved at her through the window, knowing that her excitement had trumped any nervousness or fear of being without her parents.  It also became a little emotional, realizing that this is Clara’s first opportunity to interact with a large group of kids each day, being exposed to different ideas and values, some of which may challenge our own.  The village is now helping raise our little girl. Of course, we’ll be here to foster that, but there is still some significance in presenting your children to the world.

Here’s to more great days of school!