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.

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!

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

After I went back and read the KCLS fact sheet again I saw that they said “there is a lot of misinformation being propagated among opponents of joining KCLS.” It took a few minutes but it really started to bug me because throughout this whole campaign we have tried to bring the voters the facts and I think we have done a good job of it. So, with that being said I will comment on a few more of the “facts” that Renton For KCLS Now has on their webpage – one of which was corrected today.

MYTH: KCLS will take over ownership of the existing Main Branch over the Cedar River and the Highlands branch Library buildings.

The “Vote No” campaign has never stated that the current library facilities would be owned by KCLS. We have continuously pointed out the fact that when new library facilities are built the taxpayers of Renton will pay for these buildings and then the City will turn ownership of these buildings over to KCLS. KCLS does not deny that the City will have to pay for these new buildings or the fact that they will be the owners of buildings they did not have to pay for.

MYTH: Current Renton Library staff would lose their jobs.

We have never stated that Renton Library Staff would lose their jobs after annexation. We have wondered about the future of positions that would be redudant with current KCLS staff but there is so much uncertainity in that we have not brought it up.  We have however stated how things will change for Renton library staff. Here are a few examples

  • A loss of benefits for spouses and dependent children
  • A loss of seniority – a lot of Renton Library Staff have worked for the library over 10 years, some over 20 years
  • A loss of contribution to deferred retirement plan
  • Loss of sick and vacation time
  • Renton Library Staff would be “clustered”

It seems unfortunate that an organization with an operating budget of over $90M can not provide a compensation package that is comparable to the one our own City can  to our library staff that has served our community so well.

I just want to say this here, in tough economic times I am sure the library staff, like every other employed person out there, is grateful that they have a job. But it is tough to hear that the City of Renton cares about their employees while favoring annexation.

One more for now…

MYTH: If Renton Libraries stay independent the quality of our facilities and services will remain, at minimum, equal to the current levels.

Renton For KCLS Now is great, they follow this statement with “Fact: If nothing is done to change the current funding model”, the thing to note here is “if nothing is done”. Well, whether we annex to KCLS or remain independent in the future something will be done to change the current funding model and we will make sure of that.

Stay tuned there is more to come in the KCLS “Fact” series.

The Vote Know Til You Know/Save The Renton Library group will be meeting tomorrow Sunday, January 17th, 2pm at New Life Church in Renton. New Life is located off of Maple Valley Highway at 15711 152nd Ave SE.

We are entering the last few weeks in our campaign to stop the possible takeover of our beloved Renton Public Library by KCLS. If you want to get involved now is your chance.

If you are not able to make the meeting tomorrow but still want to get involved or add your name to our endorsement list please use the contact form below.

I want to say thanks to all who have supported us up to this point, your support has made our effort possible so Thanks!

Hope to see some new faces tomorrow.