Schlicting recommended for vacancy | Gallagher amendment and YMCA addressed

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photo by Kim Cameron The Grand County Library District board is recommending Darcy Schlichting of Winter Park, CO to fill
photo by Kim Cameron The Grand County Library District board is recommending Darcy Schlichting of Winter Park, CO to fill the district’s at-large board vacancy.

Grand County Library District Trustees recently voted to recommend Darcy Schlicting of Winter Park to the district’s at large board vacancy. There was only one dissenting vote. The Board of County Commissioners will have to approve the appointment of Schlicting to the GCLD board at a regulary scheduled BOCC meeting before Schlicting can officially join the GCLD board.

After having a second home in Winter Park for the last twenty years, Schlichting and her husband, Dave, decided to sell their Denver home and make Winter Park their primary residence. Schlicting’s husband is a high school teacher in the Denver area and will live in an apartment to complete his last year before retirement.

Schlicting brings an array of work volunteer experience to the position. She is a trained nurse and later pursued her Masters in History. Her vast volunteerism ranges from parent organizations, art committees, and museums.

Although relatively new to the County, the main consideration for Schlichting’s selection was her Winter Park address. The GCLD board was mindful of having a broad representation of the entire county and District 1 did not have an at large representative.

Vice President Ann Douden commented, “The amount of projects and things she has done in her expansive resume will lend us some perspective… I am tickled that she moved here three weeks ago and will consider us.”

GCLD president Sally LeClair emphasized the importance of geographic representation from discussions and accusations that emerged last year amongst library closures and budget deficits that suggested areas in the county were under-represented.

Amy Winkel Szczepanski and David Polei also interviewed for the atlarge position in the May 16 meeting. Szczepanski withdrew her application after accepting a position with the district, and the GCLD board has recruited Polei for their community partnership board and hope to use his financial, sales, strategic and marketing experience there.

In other highlights of the GCLD, the Friends of the Library received a Bessie Minor Swift Foundation grant in the amount of $2,450.00 for the libraries Books, Babies and Bags program.

The GCLD board commented that the passage of the ballot measure which increased the mill levy to 3.36 has allowed the board to broaden their focus.

However, the mill levy is based on property taxes and recent adjustments in the Gallagher amendment and the YMCA tax exemption decision prompted the board to discuss possible budget hits once again.

A hand-out from the Grand County Assessor’s office explains: “The Gallagher amendment is a constitutional measure approved by voters and adopted in 1982 in response to homeowner concerns over rising residential property taxes. It requires that residential assessed values comprise no more than 45 percent of the state’s overall assessed value. Non-residential properties make up the remaining 55 percent.

Most years, Gallagher doesn’t come into play. If commercial values and home values rise at a similar pace, there’s no need for an adjustment. But when there’s a housing market boom, coupled with a business downturn, homeowners can wind up contributing more than their 45 percent share. That throws the ratio out of whack, triggering a mandatory tax cut for homeowners under the state constitution.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights adds another layer of complexity. Gallagher can trigger an automatic reduction in the assessed rate, but under TABOR, the rate can’t go back up without voter approval. So when commercial growth outpaces home values, and residential values drop below 45 percent, the rate doesn’t adjust.”

The GCLD’s funding fluctuates based on property taxes valuations, and the State of Colorado recently completed the residential assessment rate which decreased property taxes from 7.96% to 7.2% which is loss of 0.76%. This difference was projected to be much higher in April’s board meeting so the outlook in May’s meeting was brighter after the actual rates were established.

Dampening the financial picture was the YMCA tax exemption decision. YMCA had paid taxes to the library in 2003, 2004 and the first part of 2005 and was then placed on hold for the court ruling on whether or not YMCA would be exempted from taxes as a religious organization. After the ruling in favor of YMCA, the library district returned $59,649.12 and of that over $37,000 was interest based on 12% over the 14 years.

Organizations within the county that were affected are still in negotiations with YMCA for the accumulated taxes and hope the YMCA will forgive interest Schlicting recommended for vacancy | Gallagher amendment and YMCA addressed owed and return it.

By law, the library district also has the one-time option taxes that would have been collected from the YMCA by each taxing entity. By law, the taxing districts are allowed to recover the refunded taxes and lost revenue through an abatement, one-time only mill increase. The GCLD board is discussing this possibility and must know by December of 2017.