While the Enumclaw City Council decides how next to proceed after asking voters to consider annexation of the city library into King County Library System, it voted 5-1 Monday night that rather than repeal the existing resolution that directed city administration and staff to pursue annexation with KCLS, to simply amend the resolution's stated date of action.
The question of what to do with Resolution No. 1396 was brought up by at the last council meeting; he said having now heard from more members of the community who wanted more details about other funding options for the library, the city should pull back and he supported a repeal. Otherwise it's setting the city down one specific court and while he's aware of the strain the extra work will put on city staff, "it's a long road to hoe between now and next year," he said.
However, Councilman Jeff Beckwith noted that the language of Resolution No. 1396 didn't preclude city administration and staff from what Krebs had described, noting sections 3 and 4 of the resolution both direct administration to "pursue any other reasonable funding sources or alternatives that may support long term library services," and that they "develop a public process associated with library funding efforts."
Instead, Beckwith motioned to have the date in section 5 changed from indicating a special election would be held "in 2011" to "in the future." Krebs opposed. Councilman Kevin Mahelona was not at the meeting.
At the same time, Council voted unanimously on two other motions that follow the stated preferences of the city's Library Board, which met with city administration on March 30. According to member Jim Barchek, these were:
1) All other options for funding the library be involved; and
2) Promote community discussion and involvement in the decision
Among the motions passed were one directing city administration and staff to begin to draw up a rough idea of how the 2012 budget is already shaping up based on the existing economic climate in 2011; this would come ahead of any work administration would do to provide detailed numbers about how a proposed levy lid lift might work. Councilman Jim Hogan offered this as a first step after city administrator Mike Thomas indicated a lot of work would be involved in pursuing information for a levy lid lift that would include a much larger discussion including what to do about revenue the city will gain since the last fall. Council would also want to define what services the citizens should expect from the library if it remained city-run, such as the status quo, to further cut hours or some quantified improvement over the existing services, Thomas said.
Council also directed staff to work with the Library Board in order to set up a conversational meeting of sorts for community members, the Library Board, city staff and administration as well as City Council to meet and discuss the direction of the library. Hogan proposed this option and Beckwith made the official motion given that it appears the city was far from ready to produce a formal survey of the community asking their opinion, he said.
Meanwhile, Krebs said he would issue a clear directive at the next council meeting for staff to look at funding alternatives.
KCLS is at present not interested in pursuing a subsequent election in 2011, should the city opt to have one, Thomas said. However, it has continued to work with the city to resolve several outstanding questions there were unanswered at the time the city withdrew its election proposal, including building ownership versus lease (KCLS would be willing to lease the building and grounds from the city), and how city employee positions might align with KCLS; details were not made public, he said, as they include payroll information.
KCLS is also looking to do a cross-use study to see how city library users are already utilizing the KCLS system. Staff will meet with KCLS at the end of the month to discuss this study -- the outcome may change the long-standing reciprocal borrowing agreement that is already in place, Thomas said.
Several members of the community came to speak in support of the Council's decision to pull back on annexation and urged members to consider other options.
Tom Poe said as citizen and business owner, he helped pay for library. He hasn't seen that the county could exercise a diligence over the library that would be greater than what the city is capable of, he said. "I see it as an asset. ... and I'd hate to see the asset leave the community. We would lose control of something the citizens paid for."
Cate Underbrink, representing Friends of the Library acknowledged the tough economy but indicated the library is a resource for the public especially in hard times. Those who can't afford to go to the movies can still rent a movie at the library; those who can't afford to go on vacation can read. As city leader's you're "not just here to crunch numbers, you're here to help the community" she said.
In other news:
- Council easily passed two resolutions regarding the formal creation of a public awareness program as it relates to the city's natural gas system. The city already has about $5,000 a year allocated for this effort within the operating budget, but the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) requested that council adopt a resolution to demonstrate management support for the program, said Public Works Director Chris Searcy. It includes promoting public awareness of safety issues related to gas, such as how to detect odors.
The second resolution was related to city purchase of property currently leased to for the purpose of Garrett Street improvements to accommodate turning movements of large truck and trailer combinations. The property is owned by D. Michael & Joann Elizabeth Dunne but leased to Young Life. According to city attorney Mike Reynolds, what makes this arrangement unique is that the owners have requested that closing of the purchase be delayed and that compensation be paid to Young Life.
- Councilman Richard Elfers opposed as others passed a resolution that saw the city subsidize the with $3,000 for lease of city property. The Chamber would only be responsible for the 31.35 monthly state excise tax. There is a possibility the state Department of Revenue would challenge this but it would be the Chamber's responsibility, said Reynolds. Elfers said he viewed it as a political rather than financial decision to give the Chamber $3,000 so they could give it right back.
- City Finance Director Stephanie McKenzie outlined details of end budget figures for 2010, as the 2011 budget was based on estimates when it was passed in December. The general fund ending balance increased by $194,054 to $1,136,111 due to cost savings and actions taken by staff and administration. Her memo outlined the various amendments to be made to the 2011 budget. (See pages 16 to 30 of the meeting agenda). Councilmembers asked questions about budget increases for projects including the Fieldhouse restroom renovation and for a keycard and panic alarm system at City Hall. No action was taken Monday as this was a first reading only.
- Mayor Liz Reynolds recognized Senior Center Manager Jobyna Nickum who received the 2011 Community Achievement Award for Direct Service as given by Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation, a community behavioral health center established by the people of South King County in 1965. "We all appreciate what you do for the community," said Reynolds.
Nickum said, "It is a blessing to be able to help people." In spite of challenges, "it's extremely rewarding."
- Council and staff also took time to speak with citizens Kathy Brookhart-Donahoe and her husband as well as Mara and Milon Michael who during the meeting's public comment time, asked for city assistance and attention related to a construction project and to financial hardships related to the city's utility bills, respectively.