DENVER — Voters in Denver will decide in November whether to establish a new property tax that would raise about $31 million each year to further fund the Denver Public Library system after city council approved the measure for the ballot on Monday evening.
The council voted 11-1 to put the proposed initiative on November’s ballot – a request that came earlier this summer from Denver City Librarian Michelle Jeske.
If approved by voters, the ordinance would establish a new property tax of 1.5 mills, or about $1.50 on every $1,000 of assessed property value, for Denver homeowners.
The money would go toward funding the Denver Public Library, which Jeske told the council’s Budget and Policy Committee earlier this year would come out to about $31.6 million each year based on 2021 property assessments.
Jeske also said that the average Denver homeowner would pay an estimated $4.19 each month if the tax is approved.
The push for the new tax came out of discussions last year about how to fund a strategic roadmap for the library system on how it can expand its locations and services to more neighborhoods and better serve Denver.
“After conducting 63 community meetings with more than 500 community members, DPL created a new strategic roadmap that focuses on what our growing and changing community needs – now we need to fund that community-developed plan,” Jeske said last month.
The plan aims to pay librarians and staff more, expand technology services and other programs, expand hours and offerings, and work with people looking for jobs, according to proponents.
District 8 City Councilman Chris Herndon was the lone no vote against the measure on Monday. He said he felt the council could find the money elsewhere in the city budget.
Polling of likely voters from a group supporting the library found in April found a majority of those polled supported a potential property tax increase to expand library funding.
Nicole Sullivan, who owns two independent book stores in Denver, said she supported the potential investment in the library.
“I’m thrilled that this investment will allow DPL to increase wages for librarians and staff – the very people who safeguard freedom of expression and spread a love of books,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Denver voters will also decide, through citizen-led initiatives, whether to publicly fund sidewalk construction and upkeep through a new fee, whether to increase marijuana sales taxes to fund out-of-school opportunities for kids, whether to raise taxes to give legal representation for people facing eviction, and whether to require recycling and composting at all Denver businesses.