Email to the Editor: Let the People Fund the Library for Less than KCLS Levy

Charles V. Sansone, Joan McKinlay and Una Waldron respond to a letter written in the March 17 issue of The Courier-Herald and outline a potential levy situation in which the city pays for and retains control of the library.

(In response to Rich Elfers' letter from March 17 in The Courier-Herald)

The 65 cent per $1,000 Mr. Elfers quotes is the cost to the city. It is not the cost directly to residents in property taxes. This often quoted 65 cent figure is very misleading and the City Administrator and the Mayor agreed it was misleading at a meeting in City Hall 4/12/2011 and in archived follow-up emails the next day.  
A King County Library System (KCLS) annexation will be a direct cost to residents of 50 cents per $1,000 when up to now the direct cost to residents in city property taxes for the Library has been 9 cents per $1,000 (pgs 30, 34, 36, 37 of the 2011 City Budget and reviewed with the City Administrator and Mayor).
Instead of allowing KCLS to levy a new tax on residents of 50 cents per $1,000, residents might prefer to pay less than 50 cents per $1,000 with an increase in City taxes for a City Library Levy that would keep the Library and the money under Enumclaw’s control.  The Library Board followed the mandate of Council’s Resolution 1369 to explore alternative funding options and proposed a 40 cent increase per $1,000 in property taxes.  That 40 cent increase plus the 9 cents already allocated to the Library from property taxes in the General Fund would be and still is more than enough to fund the Library for less than what would be paid out of residents’ pockets with a KCLS levy.  That was just one of several alternative funding options possible, and was presented to Council to begin the discussion on alternative funding options.  But a discussion never happened. Council felt there was no need to “report back” to an “advisory Library Board” and they did not ask for other many possible alternatives to KCLS annexation.
Based on 2012 Enumclaw City Budget figures (pg 4 and 24) on property tax rates and taxable property values, the KCLS levy would be a 38.5% increase in property taxes for all Enumclaw residents.  That 50 cent levy on property tax values will generate $515,585 and there is no guarantee how much of this KCLS levy will come back to our Library – no guarantee at all.  It is money totally under the control of KCLS to spend wherever they wish.
So why not a less expensive 40 cent per $1,000 self imposed City levy for the Library that will generate $412,468.  That combined with the 9 cents per $1,000 already paid by residents’ property tax for the Library would give a total of  $505,273 for the Library – enough to operate an increased Library schedule and improved level of service better than expected from KCLS.  This money would be totally under Enumclaw control and guaranteed to remain in Enumclaw.  
To see how badly KCLS annexation of Renton’s Library has turned out, check online at the Renton Patch (http://renton.patch.com/) and dig deeply into the many comments there and see how residents are feeling deeply disenfranchised by the way KCLS annexation was put into place and the negative effect on their library.

The major issue in all this is one much bigger than that of Library annexation to KCLS.  It is a worsening situation where our City Council does not apparently have the time available to properly research such issues. They should have appointed a citizens’ bipartisan committee to make an honest in-depth investigation from the very beginning.  They should have involved the people.  Tell Council to do it right this time with a full review and not to jump to what seems to be the easiest way out.  VOTE NO on KCLS annexation.

Charles V. Sansone
Joan McKinlay
Una Waldron

ItchieFeet April 05, 2012 at 03:46 PM
This library election has caused me much anguish as to how to vote, more than any election I remember from the past. I am sure many others in Enumclaw are also having problems with their decision. But after reading todays info on the Patch I believe that I have finally made up my mind and finally believe that truth has been presented. The library needs to stay a part of Enumclaw and the City Council needs to have open discussions in search of funding. If the City Council continues to allow Enumclaw to be given away there will soon no longer be an Enumclaw except in the history files. Vote NO to the KCLS while further investigation is going on, open investigation. If the citizens don't want this library to remain here they can always vote at a later time to join KCLS.
Richard Elfers April 06, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Lou, I'd love to keep the library local, the problem is the city has no funding. The reality is closer to either going to KCLS or not having an operating library. Funding sources have dried up, hours have been decreased to 36 hours. The hard choice the council will have to make is between keeping the library open or funding a new police officer and fixing our streets. If you were on the council, which would you choose--protecting the safety of the citizens with another one or two police officers, fixing our increasingly poor quality streets, or on the other hand, funding the library? I know what my priority would be, and it wouldn't be the library. The city council has already spent over a year studying this issue. There were public hearings, an open house, and discussions during city council meetings. The council did due diligence on this issue and decided to put KCLS annexation before the voters. I know, I was on the council at the time. Those are the difficult choices the opponents of KCLS annexation will have to watch their council decide between if the annexation vote fails. You're not going to like their answer when/if the library closes. The city spent $25,000 on this annexation vote. If this annexation is voted down, the council will be hard pressed to see why they should run another vote. The voters will have spoken and the council will not likely ignore their opinion to re-vote annexation to KCLS. Vote Yes! Richard Elfers Pro-statement chair
Chance LaFleur April 06, 2012 at 02:50 PM
As a current member of the city council, I would agree that it would not be likely that if this vote fails, it would go out again for annexation. But just because there is not current funding available in the budget, does not mean that the council could not find avenues to fund the library. Our town rallied once to fund the construction of that building, and I don't think they would let it close so easily. Also, as I mentioned in another comment, there is a budget amendment coming forth to council to fund the frozen officer position within our current means, and the public works committee is looking at other avenues of street maintenance funding. While I cannot speak for anyone else on council, I would not support the closing of the library, and I see other possible avenues to fund its operations.


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