One of the distinguishing characteristics of Colorado’s library districts is their fiscal autonomy. They receive their operating revenues from dedicated mill levies on which the electorate votes directly. Such economic independence is not unique to library districts; half of the state’s county libraries for which data are available also have dedicated mill levies. The other half receive tax revenues at the discretion of county commissioners.
The consequences of this funding mechanism for a county library’s local income per capita are dramatic (see Chart 1 in full report). On a per capita basis, county libraries that are funded by mill levies receive half again as much revenue from their counties. The average and median, respectively, for local income per capita for county libraries with mill levies are $34.46 and 32.91, respectively. The median and average, respectively, for county libraries without mill levies are $19.14 and $18.12, respectively.
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