This election is not over Renton Library lovers. The numbers are very close and I am sure King County Elections is going to have a large number of ballots that show up in the mail today.

As of last night at 8:15pm the vote was 51.33% YES votes and 48.67% NO. According to King County Elections website they had received 880 votes that were not counted and I expect that we will see another 500+ votes being received today as well. This election is not over we still have a chance.

If you were one of many people who dropped their ballot into the drop box at the old elections office on Grady please contact the King County Elections office to make sure that your vote was counted.

The count is really close right now and I for one am not giving up hope that when all the votes have been counted we will still have a Renton Public Library. Thanks so much for your support and your vote.

Advertisements

The Seattle Times ran an article about the other Prop 1 that is on the ballot for those already in the KCLS service area.

Those of you who are thinking about voting “yes” need to understand that your taxes for library service could potentially go up every year from here on out. As the article points outs the information provided in the voters pamphlet by KCLS is misleading. The voters pamphlet makes the tax increase look like a one time deal when in fact it sets the rate for the tax base at $0.50 per $1,000 A/V. In the future when the library is in need of more funding the rate will go even higher.

This is not the time to impose such a big tax increase on Renton voters, especially when that rate will be raised when KCLS says it needs to. As we have stated time and time again on this blog Renton libraries can get the improvements that they need with a smaller and temporary tax increase.

If you have not already voted please get your ballot, mark “no” and put it in the mail. Let’s keep KCLS out of our Renton library, keep taxes down and keep local control.

VOTE “NO” ON PROP 1

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.

Looking at the King County Elections webpage there are still over 30,000 ballots out.

Go get your ballot, mark “NO” and put it in the mail or run it over to the box.

Your vote counts and we need it to make sure that Renton Public Library stays Independent.

Thanks so much for your votes and your support.

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.