The City of Renton


I am not going to lie to you, yesterday was a tough day. I already knew that the “no” votes were never going to catch-up in the polls but it was not until yesterday that it sunk in – we did not win the election. However, I managed not to shed too many tears and I’ll leave it at that.

We realize that for some an election is a fair representation of what the people want and now that the people have spoken we should just retire to our separate corners and bask in the glory that is KCLS but I am not there yet. Normally, I would agree with someone that an election is a way for the public to voice their opinions and majority rules. But in this case things are not that cut and dry – here is the wrinkle. The City of Renton lied, okay maybe lie is a bit of an overstatement but the City of Renton provided mis-information to its citizens  and we feel that the mis-information caused voters to vote a certain way.

I know that during campaigns there is a lot of information that is thrown around by supporters and opponents of whatever issue is at hand and it is up to the voter to decipher between what is fact and what isn’t. But when it comes to information that is provided by your own City a voter should be assured that it is correct. The City had stated time and time again that they are not allowed to have an opinion about annexation one way or the other – if you remember correctly the librarians were not even allowed to give their opinion. So, one should be able to assume that the information that is provided to them by a City is accurate and un-biased, especially if that City is going to use a utility bill to distribute that information.

So, with that being said our fight for a free and fair election devoid of government interference is now on. We had our attorney, John Martin, file a letter with the Attorney General of Washington asking them to look into this matter with the Public Disclosure Commission and they have 45 days to act on it. If they don’t it is our intention to sue to City of Renton ourselves. Of course that is not what we want to do so we are exhausting all other options first.

Like, I said earlier I know for some people the fight ends with the election and that is fine but if you want to the City of Renton to be held accountable for buying this annexation election this is the place you need to be.

Thanks for reading and thanks for everyone’s support during the election process – we know that the vote would not have been as close as it was without the help of everyone out there that voted “no”.

Our website is the best place to keep up to date with everything that is going on with our PDC complaint and the AG, please note that this is the .com version of Save Renton Library. Leave a comment or use the form below to get in contact with us to find out how you can help. Thanks so much…

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!

Yesterday the City of Renton was forced to issue a press release that informed voters the City had miscalculated the cost of remaining independent in the FAQ Booklet that was made available to voters. This information was also dispersed in the City’s utility bill so there is a lot of “miscalculated” information floating around out there. I wanted to make a few comments about the cost comparison.

First of all, the re-configured numbers should show that the cost of remaining independent and making library improvements is significantly cheaper then annexing to KCLS. In my opinion the City should have shown voters the cost of annexation should the other Prop 1 pass. In their table they only show the cost of the $0.42 KCLS operations levy which makes the cost of annexation $0.59 per $1,000. If the other Prop 1 passes the cost for annexation with a $0.50 operations levy would be $0.67 per $1,000. By now you know that we love to point out the fact that you will still be paying the City of Renton the $0.21 that funds the library right now so your total cost in taxes is $0.88 per $1,000. The cost to improve funding of the Renton Library and build new facilities is $0.60 per $1,000 based on the City’s new calculations.

Not only is that a savings to voters we also get to keep total local control of our library, our library staff does not have to “cluster” and the City of Renton will keep ownership of the new library buildings and all the materials inside. Mayor Law stated that the corrected figures don’t make either option more affordable then the other but that is just not the case.

Those in favor of annexation say that Renton residents will never vote on a levy to increase library funding let alone build new buildings but to that I ask then why would they vote to annex to KCLS? A vote to annex to KCLS is a vote for A NEW TAX. Property tax, levy, bond – I don’t care what you call it, a tax is a tax.

Renton voters do not be fooled. Annexation is not the answer for the future of the Renton public library. In fact it is the worst thing that could happen to our libraries.

Keep Renton Libraries and your tax dollars where they belong – in Renton.

Vote No on Prop 1

There are a lot of us out there who are not “numbers people. However, the Save Renton Library campaign is lucky to have a “numbers” guy on hand but he would never admit that – he would just say he is a conservative. Anyways, Renton Ben asked the City of Renton to re-examine the numbers that they presented to voters when the annexation discussion started.

Check out Randy Corman’s Blog  for the complete discussion.

Renton Ben is responsible for this press release that was given today by the City of Renton. For me this information is amazing, the price comparison is astounding please go and read for yourself.

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

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