save the renton public library


I would have never guessed when we started the process that the election would be separated by only 46 votes. By now we should know the winner, but we don’t. Over here at the Vote No/Save Renton Library campaign we can’t help but think that this small margin of votes can be linked back to the bogus information that the City of Renton made available to voters.

So, this process has turned from saving our beloved institution and it’s staff to holding the City of Renton accountable for their mistakes and not letting them take advantage of voters. Maybe this is just a bad time to be in government but people are fed up with the actions of our elected officials and the bureaucrats that are working behind the scenes. The Federal Government has them and so does Renton.

The City of Renton mailed an informational flyer in the December 2009 utility bill that was supposed to be “factual” not to sway voters one way or the other just mearly there to provide facts. Well, guess what we looked into the facts, because that is what we have done from the beginning of this campaign, and we found that they were wrong. Members of our group demanded that the City offer a retraction, which they did but it was too late. Ballots had been mailed and votes had already been cast. Not only that but the City did not issue a retraction in the next utility bill they just posted a tiny link on their website that made note of their mistake.

The library is one part of this fight. In fact if the library and it’s staff were not so great the voters may not be this worked up but the library is great, the staff is amazing and it is a part of Renton and we will fight to keep it where it belongs. Then come re-election year the politicians can fight for their seats.

If you know anyone that voted “yes” based on the bogus information put out by the City of Renton, who then wanted to change their vote once a retraction was made we want to hear from you. Please contact us through a comment or through the contact form, we really believe there are 50 people out there who wish they could take back there vote we just need to find them.

Please use the form below to contact us  – thanks

There is no denying that the election is very close, almost a tie and still a few more votes that need counted. We are hearing on the streets, in the library and around the internet that voters are not really happy with the overall conduct of the City of Renton during the election and some of the actions of King County Elections.

At this point the Save Renton Library campaign is planning our next move and awaiting the final election results. If you would like to complain to the City of Renton, King County Elections or the Public Disclosure Commission we are encouraging people to do so. Please use the following links to make filing your complaint easy.

Thanks so much for continuing to support the Independent Renton Library – the fight is not over.

King County Elections

The City of Renton

The following is my educated guess on what might happen to Renton libraries should voters decide to annex into the King County Library System. Again, these are just my own ideas but I think they could be a real possibility, especially if you read between the lines.

We already know that KCLS has no immediate plans to build Renton a new library. We have been promised some new lighting, maybe some computer upgrades, additional open hours and some signage – lots and lots of signage. Those are the immediate improvements that patrons can expect to see once annexation into the KCLS system happens, that and a longer wait time for books, a less browseable selection and a “clustered” staffing model.

Newcastle is scheduled to have a new library built starting March 2010. If KCLS has to close the Newcastle branch at any time during the construction process they will surely encourage patrons to visit the Highlands Branch as it would be in close proximity to them. After the new library is completed in New Castle I believe we would see the Highlands Branch closed and people in that area encouraged to visit the new 10,000 sq ft Newcastle Library being that they are only 5 miles apart.

If Renton decides to annex its libraries into KCLS there is no doubt in my mind that Fairwood would annex into the City of Renton. As some of you know Fairwood is scheduled for a 5,000 sq ft upgrade in 2012. During that construction process it can be assumed that the Fairwood Branch would shut down and people would be encouraged to visit the Renton Branch.  

By the time the Fairwood expansion is completed, Skyway will have made their decision whether or not to annex into the City of Renton. Per the Capitol Bond Improvement Project, Skyway is slated for a new 8,000 sq ft library building pending annexation.

The following is taken from the “Agreement Regarding Library Services in the Event of Annexation”, it is dated July 31, 2009 and has been signed by Mayor Denis Law and KCLS Director Bill Ptacek.

“6. Facilities Development Coordination. KCLS has plans to develop a new library in Skyway and to expand its Fairwood library, each in an area identified for potential annexation to the City. In the event that such areas do annex to the City, KCLS and the City agree to coordinate the development of these projects with the development of the proposed replacement facilities for the Main and Highlands Libraries. KCLS also has plans to develop a new library in the East Hill area of Kent, which would serve certain areas of Renton, including the Benson Hill area. In the event of a successful annexation election of the City into KCLS, KCLS and the City also agree to coordinate the development of this project with the development of the proposed replacement facilities for the Main and Highlands Libraries. In any such case, such coordination might enable KCLS to participate in the funding of the development of the replacement facilities for the Main and Highlands Libraries. “

You really don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out, the agreement pretty much speaks for itself. KCLS will use the Renton library as a hub until completion of its Capitol Bond Improvements and then instead of giving Downtown Renton a new library building it will direct residents to the many new library buildings that are technically in the City of Renton. KCLS could also look like the hero to some – providing Renton with access to 4 new library buildings -2 within the city, 2 just out of the city and there would be no reason for the City to vote on a bond for a new library building.

I think this is a real possibility for the future of our libraries. Together KCLS and the City have not given voters a guarantee that annexation will mean a new library in Downtown Renton or in the Highlands for that matter. If you think annexation is a good idea because Renton will get a new library building you better ask yourself where that new library will be located.

In the glossy trifold mailer that some Renton voters received there is some information that paints a rather doomsday situation for the Renton Public Library should the voters decide to remain independent. Well, here at the Vote No and Save Renton Library campaign we are committed to providing all of the information to voters so they can make informed decisions. Let’s look at some of the scare tactics this trifold mailer has used….

“If we fail to annex to KCLS, the city will be forced to cut Library services, reduce branch and staff hours, and face the possibility of facility closures and staff reduction.” That sounds pretty dire but let’s look at what is really going to happen effective March 2010 should the Renton Public Library remain independent. The following information is from Bette Anderson Library Director.

If voters decide to keep the Renton Public Library independent there will  be some budget cuts for the year 2010, the total amount cut out of the budget will be around $220,000 for the year.

Yes, there will be cuts to library hours but there is nothing in the information that Bette gave me that states either facility will have to close. Branch hours for the Main Branch would be reduced by 10 hours a week and the Highlands Branch would be reduced by 8 hours per week. Please keep in mind that these reductions in open hours are temporary.

“If Prop 1 fails staff will be cut effective March 1st”. This is another very misleading statement from the pro-annexation campaign. No full-time staff members will be losing their jobs. Six part-time employees will be eliminated – 1 librarian intern, 1 clerk and 4 pages. There will be reduced hours for 4 part-time positions and funding for substitutes and vacation relief will be cut.

Other cuts for the year include a reduction in the budget for library materials. This budget will be cut by 30% and regional courier service will be eliminated. This means that the library will have less money to order additional high-demand items which could lead to longer wait times or more referrals to other libraries. The cut in courier service means changes to the Interlibrary Loan process, some items may not be available since some libraries may not ship items through the mail. There has been a complete loss of funding for staff travel and training and a cut of 75% for paid performers for children’s programs.

Again all of these changes are temporary. During these tough economic times we are seeing reductions in services across the board and the library is no different. We realize that these budget reductions are an inconvenience and once the election results have been verified we can start working on a plan to get the library funding to the level it needs to be. Reinstating Friends of the Library, pending approval by Bette Anderson, is just the beginning of that process for the community.

Let’s not forget that KCLS has its own Prop 1 out there right now and if they do not get the additional funding from voters they have said that they will be forced to make similar budget cuts, “In 2009, KCLS cut $1.9 million out of the operating budget for materials (books, magazines, DVDs, books on tape, etc.), technology, administration and facility maintenance. In addition, KCLS sought private funding to support a number of programs and services. KCLS now needs to ask voters to restore the library levy rate for one year to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value, to be collected in 2011. The restored revenue will enable KCLS to preserve the current level of library service, programs and resources at all 44 libraries, and maintain outreach services to community centers, low-income daycare facilities, and to the elderly and homebound.” From the KCLS website.

You see noone is immune to the current economic situation so don’t give up on the Renton Public Library – Vote No on Prop 1!

At this point I feel like there needs to be a little clarification regarding our group and our mission.

Those people who are in favor of annexation to KCLS have painted this real “doomsday” scenario for the Renton Public Library. They would have voters believe that if the Renton Public Library does not annex to KCLS our beloved library is going to crumble into the Cedar River the day after the election.

Our group has never denied the fact that the Renton Public Library is underfunded or that it has been underfunded for years, we know that. One of our biggest complaints about the annexation vote is that Renton residents were never given a chance to improve the library funding on their own. Now it would appear that Renton residents have only one choice – annex into KCLS or have library funding remain at the current level.

Save Renton Library and the Vote No campaign are both well aware that funding for the Renton Public Library needs to be increased and we want to work with the City to see that happens in a manner that benefits Renton not KCLS.

Up to this point our focus has been defeating Prop 1 and I think part of our message has been lost. Saving the Renton Public Library is just the first part of this movement that so many people have worked hard to create. After the election is over you are going to see this movement work hard to reinstate Friends of the Library and work with City Council to introduce a bond measure that benefits the library and is cost effective for Renton taxpayers – this is just the beginning.

So, please don’t think that the Save Renton Library and Vote No Til You Know group is not in this for the long haul. This is just the first step of a movement to keep the Renton Public Library local, independent and up to date.

Some lucky Rentonites had the pleasure of receiving a fancy election flyer that encouraged voters to annex the Renton Public Library to the King County Library System. This flyer may look very convincing but over here are the “Vote No” campaign we are hard to convince and we love fact checking and telling the whole truth.

Make sure you are checking all the facts.

www.saverentonlibrary.org

Vote “NO” on Prop 1

Then you probably got your ballot in the mail and are maybe looking for a little clarification as to what you are being asked. Some elected officials in the City of Renton feel that our library should be a part of the King County Library System. There are a lot of posts here that can explain a bunch of different things about what will happen to the library, the staff, control and your taxes. Feel free to read whatever you want but if you want the condensed version here it is…

A vote of “YES” (we don’t recommend that) will get you:

  • Higher property taxes in 2011. $0.42 or $0.50 per $1,000 A/V and that is just to annex – this new tax amount will not pay for new library buildings
  • A loss of local control over the collection, library services and library programs
  • Library Board made up of members that do not live in Renton
  • Longer wait times for popular books and dvds. KCLS brags about the size of their collection, over 6 million  items, but they never brag about the number of patrons they serve which is over 1.2 million. Not only that the collection is disbursed over 44 branches all over King County
  • One less choice. Right now with our reciprocal agreement we can use both the Renton Public Library and KCLS but if we annex into the system we are taking that choice away

A “NO” Vote (that is what we recommend) will get you:

  • Local control over our Renton Public Library – an institution that has served our community so well for over 100 years 
  • A Library Board with members that live in Renton
  • Control over when and how new funding can be found to improve the Renton Public Library according to the Master Plan Study
  • An amazing collection that will remain in Renton
  • A knowledgeable staff that can customize services and materials for the needs of Renton, not 44 branches spread over a huge area
  • When the time comes to building new library facilites the buildings will be paid for by the taxpayers of Renton and the City of Renton will retain ownership of these buildings, if we annex to KCLS we pay for new buildings and they will own them

There are so many reasons to remain independent but these are some of the reasons we feel it is important to “Vote NO”.

Finally, Renton For KCLS Now is always quoting  the Library Master Plan Study to point out how underfunded the library is or how it lags far behind in technology but they never talk about the final recommendation of the Master Plan Study which state Renton should “improve service levels as an Independent Municipal Library“. Hopefully, that is what we will be able to do, please VOTE NO on Prop 1.

Visit our sister site to get more annexation information, see more endorsements and to get information on our next meeting. Thanks so much for reading.

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