GREAT FALLS — The unofficial results of the special Great Falls Public Library mill levy election are in, and voters appear to have chosen to give the facility an extra $1,594,000.
More than 13,000 votes were cast, with 7,223 voters in favor, while 6,604 voted against the levy.
Cascade County Clerk & Recorder Sandra Merchant estimates about 26,000 ballots were sent out which would mark a turnout of more than 50%.
The issue brought out strong opinions and organized efforts on both sides.
“This was such a community effort. The team was together last night,” said Library Director Susie McIntyre. “We are deeply grateful to the voters of Great Falls for choosing to invest in our community.”
Keith Duncan is with Liberty and Values MT, a group opposed to the levy. While he was congratulatory, he says the victory came at a price.
“It was really a David and Goliath fight,” said Duncan. “They'd raised over $119,000, so each of their votes cost them $16.52.”
The levy will mean an increased financial burden for Great Falls taxpayers. The annual property tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 home will be an estimated $40.50 per year.
McIntyre calls the increase modest and for that price tag, library users will eventually see expanded services.
“We will be expanding our early literacy services,” said McIntyre. “We're going to almost double the staff in providing youth services. We're going to expand our homebound program. We're going to double the number of days that the bookmobile served the community from three days a week to six days a week.”
McIntyre says the facility will also add more adult programs and expand the hours to be open seven days a week.
Duncan says the additional tax increase of 15 mills will continually impact residents.
“As your house continues to appreciate that that mill levy increase will continue to erode your income.,” said Duncan.
One other issue of concern for opponents of the measure was what they perceive as the accessibility to pornographic materials, something McIntyre says is simply not true, but an area where Duncan says his group will hold the library accountable.
“We are going to continue to monitor the library and the library board and make sure that they comply with the rules and laws of the state of Montana in distributing explicit sexual material to minors,” said Duncan.
McIntyre says anyone who has concerns about what the library offers is welcome to talk to staff and even fill out a form.
“We take community input very seriously, but we also take freedom to read very seriously,” said McIntyre. “If there's something that offends you, you make that choice for yourself, but you don't get to make that choice for other people or for other people’s children.”
- RESULTS: Library Mill Levy Election
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