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

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!

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.

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.

Submitted by Librophile

“MYTH: Renton’s budget-per-item is significantly less than KCLS’, and therefore, Renton Libraries are more efficient. FACT: This statement is a manipulation of facts. The reason Renton’s ‘cost per item’ is less than KCLS’ is because 1) Renton Libraries are and have been underfunded for decades, and 2) Renton’s older, obsolete and tattered items aren’t replaced as often as they should be (i.e. Buyer’s Guides that are 5-10 years old).”

Yes, Renton Libraries have been underfunded for years, but the fact still remains that the cost of doing business on a per item basis is significantly less. Because Renton’s library staff have had to do more with less for so long, they are quite efficient at it. So why would we think it is better to put our tax dollars to work for a system that is much bigger and perhaps less efficient because of it?

Oh, and when items get old and tattered and obsolete, the LIBRARIANS DO REPLACE THEM! If you ask any of them what they are doing while they’re busily pouring over book review magazines at their desks every day, they’ll tell you they are selecting new materials. There are some buyers guides, etc. that don’t get updated as readily but it isn’t for lack of money. There are usually other factors involved such that they have not yet been re-published or that title is no longer being published or has been replaced by something else, etc. To say that Renton doesn’t update “older, obsolete, and tattered items as often as they should” due to lack of funds is the manipulation of facts….also called a myth.

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.***