(KCPW News) The Salt Lake City library system will need to dip into its reserve funds or increase property taxes to maintain its current level of services to the public. Library Director Beth Elder says the library is investigating several options after realizing operating costs would likely exceed its revenues next year.
"And when we brought this forward to city council, they were pretty concerned about us dipping into our reserves, and suggested that we put together a proposal for them that would look at not only what our needs are now, to address that particular situation, but I've encouraged them to look at needs stretching out into the future, as well," Elder says.
That proposal would increase the library's mill levy rate, which is part of the property taxes city residents pay. It's currently about $75 per household per year, and could increase to $100 per year in one scenario under consideration. This option would bring in enough money to avoid dipping into the library's reserves, and cover the operating budgets for two new libraries in the Capitol Hill and Glendale neighborhoods. Elder says plans for these new libraries have been in the works for the past seven years.
"Libraries are such a catalyst for community development," Elder says. "They're such a wonderful gathering place and way for neighborhoods to come together. There's so much activity that happens in and around libraries. And so we'd love to have that same catalyst happen in these neighborhoods as well."
The cost of building the new libraries could require issuing a bond, however Elder says it's possible that the increased levy would be adequate. Other options call for a slightly lower increase to the library's mill levy rate, which would maintain the library's current services but not be enough to pay for the new libraries. The city library system has not increased its mill levy since 2004.