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Library Board Member Resigns Citing Dissatisfaction with City Administration, Council

Charles Sansone's departure leaves a four-person board split on the annexation question.

The five-member Enumclaw Library Advisory Board shrank to four last week after Charles Sansone submitted his letter of resignation in what he called "a mixture of regret and relief."

In his letter to Mayor Liz Reynolds, Sansone accused the city of excluding the Library Board and former director Bob Baer from all discussions with KCLS personnel and being unresponsive to the Board's questions and concerns. "YOUR appointed Library Advisory board was never allowed to participate in any discussions on alternative funding options, never asked for our opinion, and when we did make comment, were told we should not disagree with City policy," he wrote. "You and Council have refused to honor the mandate in Section 3 of that alternative options other than annexation to KCLS would be investigated."

Board chair JoAn McKinlay shares Sansone's opinion. "We've been working on this for like, two years," she said. "And they've never answered any of our questions or come back to us or even considered alternatives. All we asked was they consider some of the alternatives."

On the other side, newer Board members Rich Elfers and Richard E. Hughes have been active in campaigning for the KCLS annexation.

In a comment response on , Elfers, who was a former city councilmember, said that council did consider the Board's proposal to set up a 40 cents per $1,000 AV levy dedicated for the library plus an additional $260,000 from the general fund. (See this Courier-Herald story covering that proposal.) "The problem is that if you add the costs up, the amount the Library Board requested was closer to $.65/$1000," he said. "In actuality we can get better service with more hours for less cost by going with the King County Library System with a maximum cost of $.50/$1000. In reality, KCLS is cheaper and better."

Hughes also wrote this on March 16 after Councilman Sean Krebs clarified during council's March 12 meeting that it was council's choice to not fund the library. Hughes posed the possibility that if annexation doesn't pass, the city loses its library. Merging with KCLS gives the library a consistent funding source and "it would no longer be dependent upon stipends from the city that could vary year to year." 

This leaves Jim Barchek who offered that as a county resident, he has a more distant, if not resigned perspective on the issue.

"I've read every single letter to the paper [arguing both sides] and every single one of them is right," he said.

"The best thing for this community would be for it to run its own library the way it did four or five years ago, amply funded and we had local control," he continued. "And I still believe that but I don't believe this administration or council are ever going to make that happen again. The second best choice then, is King County."

If annexation fails and citizens demand the city keep the library open, "it's going to stay a pretty poor library," he said. "If they don't shut it down, I just have to believe it'll be run at a much reduced level. We're already down to 32 [36] hours a week. That's not the way this library should be going, with no professional librarian in charge. I just don't see our current administration and council improving on that. I'd rather see it run by somebody who cares about the quality of the library."

With four remaining members, the Library Board, in accordance with the transfer agreement with KCLS, would still remain in its advisory role with the annexation. But that doesn't mean much for Barchek. "The administration and council have never paid attention to the Board," he said. "They've ignored everything we've recommended and that's kind of why I'm feeling the way I'm feeling. I don't think the Board has ever been listened to by the people it should be listening to, so it doesn't really make a lot of difference. It has no real authority. I still firmly believe our recommendation was the best choice."

Paul T. Jackson March 28, 2012 at 05:57 PM
""In actuality we can get better service with more hours for less cost by going with the King County Library System..." Define 'Better.' Is better, not having a professional Librarian on duty? They rotate their "librarian managers." Is having non-librarians, not knowledgeable in reference search, Better? Some KCLS workers don't even know what reference works exist, or which might answer the question. Will 'more hours' correct this? Unlikely!
Bonnie March 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM
In Enumclaw, we currently do not even have a librarian working for the library! Bob Baer retired and there are no plans to replace him.
C. Hauswirth March 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I live in Enumclaw and my family has by far utilized the KCLS much more that the Enumclaw Library. The benefits of the annexation by far outweigh the "control" of it being run by the city. My vote is for KCLS.
Elizabeth April 04, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Is KCLS requiring Enumclaw to abandon your current library building to construct a new, smaller building to fit KCLS specifications at Enumclaw taxpayer expense? I hope Enumclaw voters are paying attention to what's been happening in Renton ever since the annexation won by a very slim majority. It's not at all pretty.
Richard Elfers April 04, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Elizabeth. KCLS just signed a 50 year transfer agreement with the city for use of the building. Why would they abandon it? Also, if they do abandon use of the building it goes back to the city according to the transfer agreement. Check out FAQs on the city website. Regarding Renton: I called the city administrator to check out the claims of ramming something down the voters throats in Renton. I have a copy of what the city of Renton sent all utility bill customers. The city of Renton, not KCLS, put on the ballot not only a vote on annexation to KCLS, but also a request to the taxpayers to fund two new library buildings. Yes, the vote won by a narrow margin, but voters knew what they were voting for, and in a democracy a simple major is all that is required. Nothing was forced down the taxpayer's throats.
Elizabeth April 04, 2012 at 05:17 AM
That's correct, Richard. The ballot in Renton read: "Should the City of Renton be annexed to and be a part of the King County Library District? Yes/No" Within the explanatory statement it said "Renton would provide 2 replacement library facilities to be paid for at a future date by City of Renton funds." Councilman Randy Corman provided clarification at Monday night's council meeting, and also on his blogsite, that "an affirmative vote did NOT mean two all-new libraries would be built. The Mayor and Council were considering updating the downtown library to serve as our “new” library, long after we joined KCLS." It wasn't until after people voted thinking annexing would be a plus that suddenly KCLS said the Cedar River library building was inadequate to function as a library. And instead of the current 22,000 sf library this will shrink down to something less than 15,000 sf at a hefty cost. The Renton press is reporting the feasibility of lawsuits now. I just hope Enumclaw voters are asking questions and won't face a similar surprise situation and higher taxes. Readers can go to renton.patch.com to see coverage of what's been happening between Renton and KCLS.

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