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FAQ: Library Annexation

On April 17, Enumclaw voters will decide whether or not the city library will annex into King County Library System. Here is an FAQ provided by the city of Enumclaw to help answer your questions about the issue.

Updated Wednesday, March 28: City administrator Mike Thomas provided answers to the following questions:

1. There are two funds that are specific for supporting the library: Schlotfeldt and Lafromboise. If annexation passes, it is assumed KCLS would manage these funds. Does the city or the fund's contributors have any input in terms of where the money would go? Is there a safety net that prevents KCLS from pooling these funds into a larger district pool of endowment funds to be used elsewhere?

As stipulated in the Library Transfer Agreement, the Schlotfeldt and Lafromboise Endowment Funds shall remain with the City of Enumclaw.  All expenditures from the endowment funds shall be at the sole discretion of Enumclaw and in accordance with the terms and conditions of such endowment funds.    

2. What happens to the special books collections and historical items donated by local residents? Will KCLS maintain them at the city library or move them for storage elsewhere? Will they still be available for city residents to use?

As stipulated in the Library Transfer Agreement, KCLS shall retain, as a permanent collection, all books and materials including historical artifacts that are unique to Enumclaw’s history. Such items shall be a permanent collection and KCLS is to allow public access to such items.

3. What might happen to our library if KCLS, for any reason, decides to abandon it?

Per the Library Transfer Agreement, if KCLS should cease use of the Enumclaw library at its current location, the building and improvement shall revert back to the City. KCLS is then obligated to locate a replacement library within the City limits and that library shall be available for use at the time KCLS ceases to utilize the Enumclaw Library. Thus KCLS is obligated to provide library services within the City for the term of the Library Transfer Agreement – 50 years.

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Updated Monday, March 19: City administrator Mike Thomas provided answers to the following two questions:

1. If voters do not approve of the annexation in April, will the city look for alternative ways to fund it before automatically shutting it down?

The City has not formally taken a position as to what it may or may not do if the library annexation vote fails.

2. In the event the library is shut down, what options are there for Enumclaw city residents to find library services elsewhere given that KCLS is no longer an option. Is Pierce County's system available to residents who can afford it, and what would be the fee?

Eligibility to obtain a Pierce Co. library card: Due to Pierce County Library Board of Trustee’s policy regarding eligibility for library cards, residents who live in cities and towns that do not support a public library or participate in the support of Pierce County Library may not have access to the Library’s services that require a library card for usage, such as checking out books and other materials. This means that if Enumclaw does not have a library or library service through annexation to King County Library System, Enumclaw residents would not be able to get library cards from Pierce County Library. Enumclaw residents could visit the Library System’s buildings and attend events in the libraries, but they could not get cards to check out books and other items.

If Enumclaw residents meet the eligibility requirement set forth in the above link, they can acquire a PCLS library card for an annual fee of  $118.  

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Original post: The Enumclaw City Council during its meeting Monday night voted to pass a resolution 6-0 that states that in the event city voters approve the annexation of the city library into King County Library System (KCLS), the council "does not intend to roll back" the city's property tax, city administrator Mike Thomas reported to Patch today.

Councilman Darrel Dickson was absent.

This means that if annexation is approved, voters will experience a 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value increase in their property taxes starting in 2013. A homeowner with a home valued at $250,000 would see an increase of $125 next year.

There's a lot more to the issue, and so the city has provided an FAQ for voters to get caught up and make an informed choice next month. The FAQ is a downloadable PDF on the upper right corner of the city website at http://ci.enumclaw.wa.us.

We've also reproduced the content of that FAQ below. After reviewing the questions and answers, if you still have a question that was not addressed here or you don't feel was answered adequately, please tell us in the comments area below and we'll pass it along to Thomas and city staff and will update this FAQ accordingly.

Proposition No. 1 – Annexation to King County Library System

The Enumclaw City Council and the King County Library System Board voted to give the voters a chance to decide for themselves whether to join King County Library System (“KCLS”).

On April 17, 2012, the voters of the City of Enumclaw will have the opportunity to decide whether they would like to annex to the KCLS. If approved by the voters, the City of Enumclaw would be annexed into the King County Library System. Beginning June 1, 2012, KCLS would be solely responsible for operating and maintaining the Enumclaw Library.

April 17, 2012 Ballot Measure – Proposition 1

Per King County Elections, the ballot measure will read as follows:

“Should the City of Enumclaw be annexed to and be a part of the King County Rural Library District, doing business as the King County Library System?”

Yes

No

Who is the King County Library System?

The King County Rural Library District (referred to as King County Library System) has provided library services to King County residents since 1942. It is separate from and not a part of King County government. Today, the cities of Enumclaw and Seattle are the only two cities not served by KCLS.

Over the years KCLS has grown to become the busiest library system in the United States. It operates 44 libraries throughout the King County. In addition to books, KCLS makes available for download eBooks, audio books, music and videos. In 2010 it circulated over 22.4 million items making it the busiest library system in the country. Under KCLS, library hours would increase from the current 36 hours per week to 59-63 hours per week.

How is the King County Library System Funded?

KCLS is a library district and by state law is able to access and collect a property tax levy from property tax owners within its district. KCLS is able to levy a maximum of fifty (50) cents per $1,000 assessed value of a property. The property tax collected pays for the operation of the library system.

How Much Would it Cost?

To figure out how much the library property tax would cost you, take the value of your home and divide that value by 1,000; then multiple by .50. Example - a home valued at $250,000; divide 250,000 by 1,000 = 250; then multiply 250 x .50= $125. Thus a homeowner would pay to KCLS each year $125 beginning in 2013.

Enumclaw Library

The City of Enumclaw has for many years operated and funded its own municipal library. The Enumclaw Library provides library services to all city residents and has a budget of $350,000. The library is open a total of 36 hours per week this year.

The Enumclaw Library currently has:

  • A collection of 62,000 books and other materials
  • Summer reading program
  • 14 public internet computers
  • Reciprocal borrowing agreement with King County

Enumclaw Library Funding

Funding for the Enumclaw Library comes from the City’s General Fund which also funds many other city functions such as police, streets, parks, finance, etc. The library does not have its own dedicated funding source. Due to the prolonged recession, the amount of funding devoted to the Library has been reduced each of the past several years while the City has had to focus on funding basic services. In 2009, the library budget was $631,000; now in 2012 it is $350,000. The reduction in funding has lead to a reduction in library hours, and has made it difficult to purchase new books and other items.

What Happens if the Annexation Election passes?

If the annexation ballot measure passes, KCLS will take over operation of the library on June 1, 2012. Enumclaw library card holders will be able to get a KCLS library card as well as any other city resident interested in obtaining a KCLS library card. City property tax payers would begin paying the KCLS levy in 2013.

What happens if Annexation Election fails?

The Enumclaw library is operating off of a one-time funding allocation in 2012. No funds have been indentified for its operation past 2012.

If the Enumclaw Library is closed can I get or use my KCLS card?

If the Enumclaw library is closed in 2013, city residents will not be able to obtain a KCLS library card and any city resident with a KCLS library card will no longer be able to use it at any of the KCLS branch libraries. Closure of the Enumclaw library effectively terminates the current reciprocal borrowing agreement between the City and KCLS. By policy, KCLS does not sell library cards to those outside of its district boundary.

Notice

This FAQ is provided by the City of Enumclaw to present basic facts about the Library Annexation vote. It neither supports nor opposes the Library Annexation ballot measure.

For more information about King County Library System, please visit their website http://www.kcls.org/

ItchieFeet March 14, 2012 at 07:31 PM
It must be me but the more explaining that is done regarding the library issue the more confusing it becomes. The last discussion, as I recall, stated the city was collecting .50/1000 in taxes to run the library and that came to $525,000 and they could not afford to run the library that needed $500,000 to be run adequately?? Now they are saying that they will not be rolling back their described .50/1000 if the voters approve going with King County. Something is wrong with these statements or I must be the only dense person around here.
April Chan March 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Hi Lou - Not at all. That's why the FAQ was produced, I believe, and I'm hoping we can continue adding to it as folks write in more questions. Regarding your confusion, the city in the past never had it's own 'levy' so to speak for the library -- the money came out of the general fund. There was talk about what it would look like if the city kept the library under city control and raised its own levy but I don't think those discussions ever got to the detail of what that amount might be. I could be mistaken there though. The .50/1000 is what KCLS would levy if the annexation were approved, which is still tantamount to a tax increase for city taxpayers given the council has formalized they won't be rolling back next year's levy to neutralize the 'increase' from KCLS. Does that make sense?
Juanita Carstens March 14, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Juanita Carstens This is the first I have heard about not being eligible to use a KCLS card if the annexation is not approved. Am I reading this correctly? Current City residents will have NO library privileges anywhere? I think Pierce County charges Enumclaw residents $125.00 for a library card.
April Chan March 15, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Hi again, Lou. I was passed along this story from the C-H (http://www.courierherald.com/news/126786013.html) which states the Library Board had once recommended the city put a levy lid lift to voters for 40 cents/$1000 that would have generated $421,000 per year. The Board also asked that the city then contribute $260,000 each each from the general fun, giving the library a total of about $681,000. This was this past summer.
April Chan March 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM
This FAQ has been updated with two questions pertaining to what might happen if annexation fails and what library options there might be for Enumclaw residents in that event.
PC Boy March 25, 2012 at 04:59 PM
A few years ago, I read in the Courier Herald that author Peg Kehret was making an appearance at the Enumclaw Public Library on a Saturday. My daughter was about 8 at that time, and I thought I would take her up to meet one of her favorite authors. I was shocked to be turned away because I didn't live in Enumclaw. We could see the author in another room, having a q&a session with kids and adults. I tried everything to get in, I showed the librarian my PCLS card and my KCLS card, but it didn't matter. I asked if I could voluntarily join, no dice. I came away with a very disappointed daughter and an attitude that Enumclaw, while friendly on the surface, was still very much a closed community. We felt like a couple of outsiders. You have a beautiful library, that you want to keep to yourself. You don't want to share. I find this whole dilemma ironic.
Jean Hoiland March 27, 2012 at 12:44 AM
If it was already at capacity then I imagine they wouldn't have let you in. I have walked in to many events without checking in at the front desk. I cannot image they would have turned you away, there is no way Bob Baer would have allowed that to happen. That's just my opinion.
Jean Hoiland March 27, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Thank you April for covering all of this. I am concerned how this has been handled. Seems like bully tactics to me. I would like to hear from all of the families who have donated estates and other money to keep the library funded over the years.
Jean Hoiland March 27, 2012 at 12:53 AM
It would be nice to hear from the library advisory board now as well as other groups that oppose this. Most of the articles from CH are from last summer. There are a lot of special book collections that have been donated by local residents, historical items etc...What will happen to all of that?
April Chan March 27, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Hi Jean. Great suggestion for checking in with the library fund supporters - I'm going to look into that!
April Chan March 28, 2012 at 09:03 AM
3 more questions about historical books, endowment funds and the library building answered by city administrator Mike Thomas.
Jean Hoiland March 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Wonder what the Schlotfeld and LaFrombroise families have to say about that? After reading yesterdays letter to the editor from library board advisor it appears our city administrators and council never gave due consideration to the library advisory board. How much money remains in the two endowment funds and are they specific for library use? Why doesn't the city publish the agreement with KCLS?
April Chan March 28, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Great questions Jean. Just wanted to let you know for the time being, the transfer agreement can be found on the city website. You have to go to where they list agenda packets: http://ci.enumclaw.wa.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={5F9EF5AB-CD72-46FF-9034-83F3FFB07134} and check out the Feb. 13 agenda packet. Transfer agreement documents start on page 47.
Jean Hoiland March 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you April for the link to the Enumclaw/KCLS proposed agreement.
Karen Jensen March 29, 2012 at 09:14 AM
What is Enumclaw city council not telling us? Council member Sean Krebs said in the March 12 council meeting that the decision to not fund the library was not due to financial constraints. If the city does not intend to roll back the taxes we are now paying for the library and it goes to KCLS they will both be collecting monies for an asset we have been railroaded into giving away. As mentioned in the KCLS overview KCLS revenue will decline in 2012. According to KCLS new staffing model there will be fewer librarians because of existing financial parameters. Our library has been around 93 years. It may need volunteers to keep it open additional hours but residents have always stepped up and taken care of our precious resources. We need to see alternatives and explore all possibilities. Please vote NO to KCLS.

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