If you have checked out the Renton For KCLS Now site and looked at their “facts” you are probably really confused at this point. We here at the “Vote No” campaign can understand your confusion so we are going to try to debunk the KCLS facts to the best of our ability.

Here is one such fact that needs some clarification from the KCLS site:

“MYTH: The current tax dollars being collected for Renton Library Services ($0.26/$1000 AV) will still be collected by the City of Renton after annexation to KCLS.
FACT: This statement is a misreading of the funding chart provided by the City and is not the way Renton’s finances work. In order to show voters a common unit of comparison, Renton’s cost analysis is presented in terms of a property tax since that is the revenue source that funds library districts. In reality, the City does not currently collect $0.26/$1000 AV in order to pay for the library, but uses an amount of general fund revenue (equivalent to $0.26 per $1000 AV) totaling about $1.8 million per year. The City would not ‘keep’ an extra $0.26/$1000 in property tax revenue if the voters choose to join KCLS. It is true that the City would save approximately $1.8 million in 2010 by not funding library operations.”

Yes, it is true that Renton’s library funding is not collected in the form of property tax but, like the City of Renton, we have used that as a simple reference to explain where the money that funds the library comes from.

The money that was used to fund the library will still be collected and put in the general fund. As of today The City has made no plans as to how that $1.8M would be spent. Proponents of annexation want that money to go to emergency services like police and fire because they think funding the library takes away from these vital city services. However, the City has not taken an official position as to how that money would be spent.

In fact if annexation passes the City of Renton would not see a savings in their general fund for 2010 because the agreement between the City of Renton and KCLS is that Renton would be required to pay KCLS for library operations for 2010. This makes sense since KCLS is not going to start to collect Renton property tax dollars till 2011, so who is floating the bill for 2010 operations.

Just to state that again, The City of Renton general fund still has to pay for library services for 2010. Here are some minutes from KCLS where they state that (check out page 2 3rd bullet). If this is wrong I invite anyone to provide us with documentation proving it. We have looked and looked and have not found anything to disprove it. That means that any savings of the general fund wouldn’t happen until 2011.

Now, here is where a KCLS “fact” is actually right, the later part of the KCLS fact statement says, “However, the City would also be required to build two new library buildings at some point in the future. Although there have been no official pronouncements on this matter, City Officials have indicated that since Renton would be responsible for replacing two branches upon joining KCLS, the City could use/continue the current investment it makes in libraries by issuing bonds to build those two facilities, paying debt service on those bonds for facilities over time. The City has acknowledged that the chart is confusing, but offers the fairest comparison between the two system’s costs.” It is important to note for those who feel additional emergency services should be funded out of this $1.8M in savings to know that the City has not guaranteed to add emergency services and that the City could choose to use this money to build new buildings in the future.

So, the facts are really this:

  • The City will continue to collect the money that used to fund the library, which means Renton taxpayers will see no savings by annexing to KCLS.
  • The City has to pay for library operations for the 2010 fiscal year even if annexation passes.
  • The City could decide to use the $1.8M previously spent on library operations to build new buildings that would ultimately be owned by KCLS.

This is a very long entry but sometimes disproving “facts” is a lot of work. So, thanks for hanging in there on this one and when you get your ballot in the mail do not hesitate. Open it, Vote No, put a stamp on it and put it in the mail.

Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to “Vote No”.

*Please note – I just got word from the Library Director, Bette Anderson, that savings to the general fund would not be seen till 2011.***