Determine the Amount of Mills You Will Need Levied

State law requires that the territory included in a public library district contain a taxable value of at least $5 million. This requirement exists because we want libraries to survive and thrive. It's a lot of work to create a district, so it's important that you levy enough mills to truly fund your new district. You don't want to be in starvation mode before you have even started. You need your budget in order to begin the process of determining how many mills to ask for during the election.

Your clerk or treasurer can give you an idea of how much a mill is worth. If you have a good relationship with this person they probably can help you figure out how many mills you would need for your new district. If that is not the case s/he will hopefully share the value of a mill in the district territory. Once you have this information you can determine how many mills you need for your district. Refer to MCA 15-10-420 for information about calculating levies. Montana property tax laws determine maximums that can be levied each year. Tax laws are complicated, so contact your city clerk or treasurer for help.

Contact the local Department of Revenue office as soon as you decide to try and become an independent public library district. The Department of Revenue needs to know about new taxing jurisdictions. You can explain that the district needs to be voted on and established, but giving this local office notice should help in the long run. 

Helpful Hint: Ask for more mills than you need. You have to decide on the best strategy for your community, but if you ask for more mills than you need it will give future boards the ability to raise more money for the library without going for a mill levy campaign. You may be better off asking only for the number of mills you need, but other districts have been successful at asking for more than they needed. These districts reassured voters that the board wasn't going to levy the full amount, but simply wanted it to be an option if the district needed more funding for additional services in the future.

ASPeN: The New Library Directory

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