Wednesday’s round of ballot counting set the annual Castle Rock library levy on track to pass, giving it slightly more than 60% supermajority approval, though the results could change as ballots trickle in later this week.
The measure also earned enough “yes” votes” to validate the election results, historically a challenge for the levy in odd-year elections with lower voter turnout.
As of Wednesday’s ballot count, the levy received 245 “yes” votes, or 60.3% of the total votes. To pass, the measure needs 60% approval and at least 225 “yes” votes to validate the results. (Validation is based as a percentage of total voter turnout from the previous general election.)
The library levy was initially losing in Tuesday night’s primary election returns, but nearly 40 ballots counted Wednesday helped push the levy toward passage. However, some ballots may still trickle in as the week continues, potentially decreasing the approval percentage and causing the measure to fail.
For example, if the levy receives just three more “no” votes, and no additional “yes” votes, the measure would fall short of the 60% supermajority.
“In the past, it seems like it always has come around … when it’s been that close, so I’m pretty optimistic it will probably pass,” Mayor Paul Helenberg said Wednesday. “We just have to wait and see.”
Library Director Vicki Selander said the city has also filed to put the levy on the general election ballot if it fails in the primary.
“If it passes, we will just cancel the general election filing,” she added.
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In past year the library levy has typically fallen short on election night, only to climb to victory as more ballots were counted. The levy has passed the last three years.
The measure occasionally faces the challenge of validation, or receiving a high enough voter turnout for the vote to count. In the 2017 primary, the library levy failed because too few voters cast ballots. The city ran the measure again in the general election, and it passed after earning supermajority approval and meeting validation requirements.
The levy would raise nearly $81,000 in 2020 to fund public library services. Under the tax, city residents would pay 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their home, or $125 on a $250,000 home.
Last year voters approved the tax with 63% support. Although it was set at the same rate, last year’s levy only raised about $72,000 because assessed property values in the city were lower.
Increasing property values mean the city can raise more with the tax without having to change the rate.
Money collected by the tax funds maintenance and operations of the library, including the salaries for two employees.
“I’m hoping for a good result, but we do have a safety net (in the general election),” Selander said.