In the FAQ Brochure that is so frequently discussed here the City has provided  a little table on page 9 that compares the costs of providing library services with the Renton Library System and the King County Library System. Under the “Annex to KCLS” columns the city has omitted the $0.26 that is currently paid by residents for library services. Our campaign has taken issue with this from the very beginning, questioning whether or not the city will stop collecting this money if residents decide to annex to KCLS. Well, not wanting to speculate on any matter here I decided to go right to the City for an answer and here is what I found out.

A few weeks ago I sent an email to the City…

“currently residents pay $0.26 in property taxes and other taxes to fund the library. If voters decide to annex to KCLS it is assumed that residents will no longer have to pay this $0.26 in taxes any longer. How does this translate to tax payers, how and where will they see these savings? Will their property taxes be decreased in any way? How will the savings that are promised by annexing to KCLS be given back to tax payers.”

Marty Wine, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, was so kind as to get back to me with this response…

“The short answer: those decisions haven’t been made and options exist. The equivalent amount of $0.26 per $1000 AV currently paid totals about $1.8 million per year, the amount of the current library operating budget. While nothing has been decided by the Administration or Council, Renton would still be responsible for replacing two facilities/library branches upon annexation to KCLS, and would need to find funds to do so. The City could use/continue the current investment we make in libraries by issuing bonds to build those two facilities and some part (we estimate perhaps $0.13) of the $0.26 per $1000 could be used to pay for debt service on those bonds for facilities over time. So it’s likely that any savings would be something less than $0.26 per $1000 if that approach was used. The City would also have the option of “giving back” all or part of the current investment to taxpayers in the form of a lower property tax levy in some future year, or an option to use those general-purpose taxes to pay for other priority city services (by either restoring services cut in 2009 or funding other services).

Please also note that costs to improve library services fall into several categories that total more than $0.26 per 1000 whether annexation to KCLS is approved or not. Remaining independent or annexing could cost residents in total from $0.59 to $0.70 per $1000. Those costs include current operations, master plan investments in programs and staffing, capital (buildings), and newly annexed areas still pay for the bonds for KCLS’ 2004 levy. So the $0.26 per $1000 is just one part of the tax burden/investments that Renton residents would need to make to modernize library services whether independent or part of KCLS.

This information request also came to us from another resident, copied here. I am available to provide any other clarifications, information or answer any further questions you have. Please just call or email for anything more you need. Thanks for your interest!”

I don’t think any further discussion is necessary at this point –