(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